How Salt Lake City Makes Rapid Re-Housing Work

Guest Post: Michelle Flynn
The Road Home, Salt Lake City, UT

The Alliance has released the five key strategies for advancing rapid re-housing. Those strategies are: Build the Evidence, Adopt Standards of Excellence and Practice, Make Rapid Re-Housing Part of Your System, Expand the Role of Partners and Acquire New Resources. This blog discusses the third strategy, Make Rapid Re-Housing Part of Your System.

For rapid re-housing to work best, it needs to be integrated into your community plan. It should be a part of Coordinated Entry, ingrained in the processes at emergency shelters, and supported by committed resources from many partners who help families re-build their support networks and stability in housing.

Developing a Working System

We began our community-wide rapid re-housing program with the leadership of a local champion (the famous Lloyd Pendleton) and good working relationships among providers, housing authorities and local government staff who work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding.

By coming together and centralizing the administration of the Salt Lake County Rapid Re-Housing program at The Road Home, we were able to grow capacity in landlord relationships, management of multiple funding sources, and the operations of the eligibility process and rent payments. This allowed us to have consistency in how the program was functioning and in our reporting. A solid referral process provided all agencies serving homeless families to access rapid re-housing.

This systematic approach allowed us to serve all families without needing additional shelter during the economic recession and maintain an 85% success rate during those challenging years.

Need to Keep the Wheels Greased

Rapid re-housing is often misunderstood, even in communities that have provided the intervention for many years.

Neither shelter providers nor housing agencies can do it alone. The Road Home operates a housing first shelter with rapid re-housing built into our services. We partner with other agencies that provide diversion services, employment services, transportation and education support and much more.

The homeless system can’t focus on other needs if we don’t continue to report on the value of rapid re-housing as a significant tool in keeping homelessness as a brief experience. Key staff members retire, elected officials change and we are all pulled in so many directions that it can be hard to maintain commitment at the community level. We must continue to evaluate our programs, collect data and tell our story.

As rapid re-housing providers, we need to educate our staff, partner service agencies, those working in national, state and local administrations, donors, volunteers, and the general public. We need to tell the story of the core components of rapid re-housing, share research, and collect local data.

Rapid re-housing and our entire system are stronger when we are working together. Each agency sees greater success and most importantly the families we serve get stronger more quickly with a system approach.