Best Practice | August 11, 2006
St. Stephen's Housing Services is working to rapidly rehouse families and individuals with moderate to severe impediments to finding and/or maintaining housing and ensuring the supports are in place to help people at risk sustain their housing and achieve stability in housing. St. Stephen's is successfully rehousing and stabilizing those with significant impediments to regaining housing stability, including individuals and families newly recovering from a substance abuse addiction, recent, repeated incidents of domestic violence and those with histories of evictions, bad credit and incarceration.
The target population includes families and individuals who are homeless and residing in a Hennepin County funded shelter. Families are referred to St. Stephen's by the county Rapid Exit Coordinator and some individuals and families may walk in. In addition to services supported by the contract with Hennepin County, staff of St. Stephen's engages in outreach to jails and prison to prepare men for discharge and manages five transitional and permanent homes for ex-offenders.
St. Stephen's Housing Program works with individuals and families many would consider high-risk, including those with histories of evictions, domestic violence, incarceration and recent drug addiction. St. Stephen's provides assistance to the individual or family in their search for appropriate housing, negotiating with landlords, and providing the follow-up case management to enhance housing stability.
Efforts to reduce landlords' reluctance to enter a rental agreement with those who may appear "high risk" include:
- Offering security deposit guarantees, last month rent guarantees or co-signing leases as necessary.
- Agreeing to absorb the cost of an unsuccessful housing placement including paying for damages and eviction costs to reduce the disincentives to the landlord in accepting a "higher risk" rental candidate.
- Committing to home visits to the tenant's apartment twice monthly during the first six months that include housing inspections.
- Providing case management up to one year and linking families and individuals to needed support services available in the community.
- Offering assistance to the landlord and tenant to resolve any crisis that may threaten housing stability by engaging in mediation and advocacy.
- Providing agency references to prospective landlords.
In addition to these incentives to landlords, St. Stephen's is committed to maintaining relationships with landlords and recognizes a negative housing placement will affect the program's ability to place other clients. A strong relationship and reputation with landlords allows the agency to maintain a roster of landlords who will accept St. Stephen's tenants and enhances their advocacy to house those with severe barriers to housing. At times, St. Stephen's may provide or refer a client to transitional housing; this is primarily done to allow a client who lacks a rental history or has a criminal record to develop a stable housing history to facilitate a rapid return to permanent housing.
Source of Funding
Through a contract with Hennepin County, St. Stephen's relies on Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP) and HUD funds to provide services. St. Stephen's has also received a state transitional housing services grant funded with TANF block grant funds. The program also receives funds through foundation grants and private donors.
The outcome data demonstrates that housing first strategies can be successful with those with moderate and severe impediments to sustaining housing, 75% of those placed in housing remain stably housed after six months, 70% remain stably housed after eight months.
For More Information Contact
St. Stephen's Human Services
2211 Clinton Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404