The Joint Component Is for Homeless Youth, Too!

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the 2017 Continuum of Care (CoC) Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) in July. The Alliance has a lot of resources which you can see here. Sign up for our newsletter to get more of our observations about the Competition.

New HUD CoC TH-RRH Joint Component Is for Homeless Youth, Too!

Participants in the Alliance’s Rapid Re-Housing for Youth Learning Community were excited to see the announcement of a new project component type in this year’s CoC  NOFA! This new option combines features of transitional housing (TH) with rapid re-housing (RRH) to create a joint component (TH-RRH).  Communities can use the joint component to fill gaps in their homeless services systems for young people experiencing homelessness.

Why the TH-RRH joint component?

The experienced providers of the Learning Community have taught us that rapid re-housing is a great Housing First model for youth. Many communities have developed new youth RRH programs. But some communities still have large numbers of unsheltered young people. While those communities are becoming rock stars at rapidly re-housing young people, there is still a dearth of crisis housing to get youth safely off the streets while they’re waiting for RRH.

The TH-RRH joint component is meant to address that mismatch. The joint component is not meant to replace reallocated TH projects or TH projects that lost funding in previous years. Rather, it’s intended to be a means to increase a community’s crisis housing capacity.  This is while maintaining a focus on getting people, including youth, back into their own permanent housing as quickly as possible.

What does TH-RRH look like?

There are currently no “official” TH-RRH models. But we do know that new TH-RRH projects for youth should, at least:

  • Use a Housing First approach, which includes:
    • Youth-led services;
    • Focus on moving into permanent housing as quickly as possible;
    • No requirements to take part in treatment or services to receive help; and
    • Low barriers to entry (including being able to accommodate youth with pets and partners).
  • Incorporate youth-choice, in both finding permanent housing and in determining when to exit crisis housing. Meaning the youth decides when they are ready to move on to the RRH part of the model, not the program. This includes youth deciding to skip the TH part of the model all together and go directly into RRH.
  • Provide or connect youth to resources that help them achieve their goals.
  • Target and prioritize youth with the highest needs, including youth who:
    • Are unsheltered;
    • Have been homeless for a long time or repeatedly;
    • Are most vulnerable to violence or harm; and
    • Have the highest barriers to accessing and maintaining permanent housing.

Does my community need TH-RRH for youth?

The joint component for youth isn’t necessary in all communities. Before developing new TH-RRH projects for youth, communities should consider whether:

  • They have large numbers of unsheltered youth;
  • They lack safe, low-barrier crisis housing options for youth;
  • Existing crisis or temporary housing (shelter or TH) stays are brief; and
  • Existing TH projects aren’t able to provide financial assistance for permanent housing.

Even if the answer to all those questions is affirmative, communities should still determine whether other solutions can help them solve those problems more efficiently. For example, in communities where shelter or TH stays are long, simply increasing RRH for youth (or PSH in very rare cases) might be more effective. Or where there are already safe crisis housing options for youth, communities should analyze to what extent capacity could be increased by lowering barriers to existing options while also increasing RRH to flow youth more quickly out of homelessness and into housing.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that the CoC is a competitive, collaborative model that is meant to address the big picture of actually ending homelessness in a community. To that end, CoCs must consider how funded projects contribute to (or hinder) achieving that goal, including the system performance measures of reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness, reducing the amount of time people are homeless, and increasing the number of exits from homelessness into permanent housing. When assessing whether your community needs a TH-RRH project for youth, you should take into account the ability of that project to contribute to those outcomes.

Want to learn more?

Are you as excited as we are about the possibilities for ending youth homelessness that the new TH-RRH joint component opens up? Want to learn even more? Register for this month’s online meeting of the Rapid Re-Housing for Youth Learning Community where Alliance experts and members of the Learning Community will share insights and answer questions about the joint component. And as always, if you’re interested in being a part of the Learning Community, contact Mindy!