The Impact of Rapid Re-Housing in New York City

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Research Brief | September 17, 2013

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The Impact of Rapid Re-Housing in New York City September 2013

New York City is required by law to provide shelter (temporary housing) to all eligible families that are homeless and request it, also known as a “right to shelter” policy. Between fiscal years (FY) 2005 and 2011, it implemented a number of different rapid re-housing programs to reduce the number of families in shelter. This brief examines what happened to the number of homeless families, the duration of their homelessness, and the rate of their return to shelter during the period when rapid re-housing was implemented.

The first rapid re-housing program, Housing Stability Plus, was in effect between FY 2005 and 2006. It was followed by Advantage, which began in FY2007 and remained in effect until FY 2011 when State funding was fully eliminated. In the peak year of the Advantage rapid re-housing program, 7,000 families left shelter with a rapid re-housing subsidy.i

The following trends were observed during the rapid re-housing period:

  • The number of homeless families remained relatively steady despite other factors, such as the recession;
  • Families experienced homelessness for shorter periods of time; and
  • The rate of return to shelter for families that had been rapidly rehoused was low.

Since funding for the Advantage program was eliminated in 2011, the number of families in shelter and the average length of stay in the shelter system increased significantly.

While less than 25 percent of families in the shelter system exited with a rapid re-housing subsidy, and while it is not possible to isolate the impacts of rapid re-housing without comparing families that received it to families that did not receive it, it is possible to examine trends both before and after the rapid re-housing period. Below is an examination of some of these trends.