Whether you are a funder or state leader looking to increase effective implementation of rapid re-housing in your community, a provider interested in learning about how to improve your rapid re-housing program, or a Continuum of Care (CoC) wanting more information about how assess programs, the Alliance has released new guidelines that can help: Rapid Re-Housing Performance Benchmarks and Program Standards.
They were unveiled last week at the 2016 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness in Oakland, California and represent promising rapid re-housing practices established by the Alliance, as well as the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and Abt Associates. These new guidelines were initiated in an attempt to provide greater detail and guidance for what constitutes an effective rapid re-housing program.
We thought a series of blog posts would be helpful, so over the next few weeks we will take a closer look at the details of these benchmarks and standards. This blog post will focus on the performance benchmarks described in the guidance.
The Basis for the Benchmarks
Building on the three core components of a rapid re-housing program, the guidance includes (1) details on performance benchmarks that would qualify a program as effective; (2) accompanying qualitative program standards for each of the rapid re-housing core components that are likely to help a program meet the performance benchmarks; and (3) program philosophy and design standards that provide more guidance on the broader role a rapid re-housing program should play in ending homelessness.
Rapid Re-Housing Performance Benchmarks
The effectiveness of a rapid re-housing program is determined by its ability to meet three primary goals: (1) Reduce the length of time program participants spend homeless, (2) Exit households to permanent housing, and (3) Limit returns to homelessness within a year of program exit.
The performance benchmarks described below are based on program performance against these goals:
Performance Benchmark #1: Reduce the length of time program participants spend homeless. For a program to meet this performance benchmark, households served by the program should move into permanent housing in an average of 30 days or less.
Performance Benchmark #2: Permanent housing success rates. For a program to meet this performance benchmark, at least 80 percent of households that exit a rapid re-housing program should exit to permanent housing.
Performance Benchmark #3: Returns to Homelessness. For a program to meet this performance benchmark, at least 85 percent of households that exit a rapid re-housing program to permanent housing should not become homeless again within a year.
A community may not have any programs that meet these benchmarks, particularly in extremely expensive or low-vacancy housing markets or if programs are primarily serving households with zero income and/or higher housing barriers. While programs should continue to strive to achieve these benchmarks, funders may also use this as an opportunity to assess relative effectiveness between programs and to undertake performance improvement efforts.
It is important to remember that rapid re-housing is a Housing First intervention, meaning that programs should not be screening out households based on criteria that are assumed to predict successful outcomes, such as income, employment, criminal history, mental health history, or evidence of “motivation”, among other factors. The benchmarks are based on performance data of programs that do not screen households out on the basis of these barriers.
Now that you have the basics, take a look at the full version of the benchmarks.
In my next blog post, I will break down the program standards for each of the rapid re-housing core components as well as program philosophy and design standards.