Rapid Re-Housing Congressional Briefing: Policy Priorities

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Congressional Briefing | May 2, 2012

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Ending Family Homelessness through Rapid Re-Housing: Federal Policy Priorities

The rapid re-housing model has substantially reduced the amount of time families with children spend homeless and reduced the overall numbers of homeless families. This cost-effective strategy quickly moves families back into housing through collaboration with landlords, short-term rental assistance, and case management focused on helping families increase their incomes and remain in housing. Below are specific policy recommendations to bring rapid re-housing to scale.

1. Provide $2.23 billion in FY 2013 for HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants, including at least $286 million for the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program. The ESG formula grant reaches every state in the country, funds the low-cost, effective rapid re-housing model, and is the model off of which the successful Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) was based. When Congress passed the HEARTH Act of 2009 to reauthorize HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants, it envisioned increasing funding for the ESG program as HPRP expired. Now is the time to follow through on that commitment in order to prevent a belated recession-related increase in homelessness. $2.23 billion, as requested by the Administration, would mean housing instead of homelessness for 150,000 Americans.

2. Fund VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program at $300 million in FY 2013, as requested by VA. SSVF serves homeless and at-risk veterans and their families by providing homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing assistance to help them stabilize in housing. It provides the missing complement to VA’s other interventions for homeless veterans, such as the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher program. Congress should support this request to bring SSVF to scale and put VA on track to meet its goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans by 2015.

3. Provide $25 million DOJ’s Transitional Housing Grants for Survivors of Domestic Violence. Congress should maintain existing program resources to help survivors of domestic violence leave abusers and move safely into independent, affordable housing, while providing the supportive environment necessary to help families transition in place.

4. Invest in strategies to increase employment and affordable housing for low-income families. Without access to a strong safety net, millions of American families will be at increased risk of becoming homeless. Congress should provide maximum access to affordable housing for low-income families and ensure programs aimed at increasing Americans’ incomes adequately serve the most vulnerable families.

Please contact Steve Berg at the National Alliance to End Homelessness (sberg@naeh.org) to discuss how we can work together to move these policy issues forward in Congress.