Author Tina Patterson is the CEO of Homefull. The non-profit agency, located in Dayton, Ohio, provides a comprehensive continuum of services designed to help people find and keep jobs and homes.
We are all familiar with the old adage about real estate – location, location, location. At Homefull we have an adage about rapid re-housing: communication, communication, communication.
Communication with the clients we serve.
Communication with the landlords we partner with.
Communication with our homeless system and broader community.
It is the Power of 3 you see! OK, a bit Seussical I will admit, but it works and we continually coach our housing teams on it. We aren’t the only ones. When the National Alliance to End Homelessness unveiled the core components and performance benchmarks for rapid re-housing, they did so in triplicate.
The core components of rapid re-housing are
- Find = Housing Identification
- Pay = Rent and Move-In Assistance (Financial)
- Stay = Case Management and Services
The performance benchmarks for rapid re-housing are
- Households served by the program should move into permanent housing in an average of 30 days or less.
- 80 percent of households that exit a rapid re-housing program should exit to permanent housing
- 85 percent of those households exiting to permanent housing should not return to homelessness within 1 year
How communication makes rapid re-housing successful
To make certain Homefull achieves the 30/80/85 benchmarks in Dayton, Ohio, we must be three times as good in communication as we think we are. Here are specific examples of how we creatively communicate throughout the process with each set of stakeholders.
- Find. We confirm that our housing specialists feel a significant sense of urgency to identify appropriate housing options with the client at our first meeting.
- Pay. We offer repeat clarification of the specific financial amounts to be contributed by our program and the amounts to be contributed by the client. If those amounts change, we reiterate the new amounts in advance and ongoing via income recertification and budgeting with the client.
- Stay. We seek the input of the client to determine and introduce the support systems (people and agencies) needed for long term stabilization.
- Find. We convey the selling points, strengths and specifics of our program with each landlord, including our expedited plans for apartment viewing, pre-inspection, and lease signing.
- Pay. We send landlords a monthly reminder of the amount our program is paying and we confirm by the 5th of each month if the client’s portion was received along with any contingency plans if not.
- Stay. We notify the landlord in advance of our plans for expected phase-out and closure of client’s case. Part of that notification is our prevention and resource center contact information if ever needed.
- Find. We facilitate weekly housing case updates between our direct service staff and our Performance/QA officer.
- Pay. We advocate for and align the various resources and contributions made by community partners who assist with initial housing assistance for the client, be it legal aid or furniture pantry.
- Stay. We coordinate soft hand offs and trial runs with the client and his/her/their external support networks.
These strategies and other place-based approaches have proven effective for Homefull and our Dayton Continuum of Care. We also knock on wood just to be safe — 3 times of course!