Last week I wrote about the recently released Rapid Re-Housing Performance Benchmarks and Program Standards and outlined a general overview of the guidance. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the program standards, in particular, the accompanying principles and rationale behind each of the rapid re-housing core components: Housing Identification, Rent and Move-In Assistance, and Rapid Re-Housing Case Management and Services. The guidance goes into specifics about the standards and examples of how a program may meet those standards. Also, don't forget to sign up for our webinar on March 24 that will discuss the benchmarks.
Core Component Program Standards
Rapid Re-housing Core Component #1: Housing Identification
Goal: To find housing for program participants quickly
The guidance includes nine specific standards related to program staffing, policies and activities as well as examples of how programs can meet these standards. Below are the principles and rationale:
• Within the limits of the participant’s income, a rapid re-housing program should have the ability to help households access units that are desirable and sustainable.
• Housing identification efforts should be designed and implemented to actively recruit and retain landlords and housing managers willing to rent to program participants.
• Critical to the formation of landlord-program relationship is the recognition of the landlord as a vital partner.
One of the primary activities under housing identification is the recruitment of landlords, which is essential to having rapid access to permanent housing.
Programs should not knowingly place households with negligent landlords and should also help explain tenant/landlord rights and responsibilities.
Programs must match households to appropriate housing—that means it’s decent, safe, meets the safety needs of survivors of domestic violence and affordable after financial assistance ends.
Rapid Re-Housing Core Component #2: Rent and Move-In Assistance
Goal: To provide short-term help to households so they can pay for housing
The guidance includes nine specific standards related to program staffing, policies and activities as well as examples of how programs can meet these standards. Below are the key principles and rationale:
• Rent and move-in assistance should be flexible and tailored to the varying and changing needs of a household.
• A rapid re-housing program should try to maximize the number of households it is able to serve by providing households with the financial assistance in a progressive manner.
The rent and move-in assistance component was designed to enable the quick resolution of the immediate housing crisis. Programs should start out by assuming that households, even those with zero income or other barriers, will succeed with minimal subsidy and support which can be extended if necessary.
Programs should be attentive to the ability of a household to maintain housing once subsidy ends, but should not be entirely constrained by attempts to reach a rent burden of only 30 percent of a participant’s income. Instead, they should recognize that once housed, the participants will be in a much better position to increase their incomes and address their other needs.
By not over-serving households, programs can maximize the impact of available resources to serve the largest number of people possible.
Rapid Re-Housing Core Component #3: Rapid Re-Housing Case Management and Services
Goal: To help participants obtain and move into permanent housing, support them in stabilizing in housing, and connect them to services and supports if needed
The guidance includes 24 specific standards related to program staffing, policies and activities as well as examples of how programs can meet these standards. Below are the key principles and rationale:
• Rapid re-housing case management should be client-driven.
• Rapid re-housing case management should be flexible in intensity—offering only essential assistance until or unless the participant demonstrates the need for or requests additional help.
• Rapid re-housing case management uses a strengths-based approach to empower clients.
• Rapid re-housing program case management reflects the short-term nature of the rapid rehousing assistance, which is to focus on housing retention and helping a household build a support network outside of the program.
Case management focuses on navigating barriers to tenancy and helping participants build a support system by identifying and connecting them with community supports.
This can include services and mainstream resources, as well as family and friend networks.
In instances when a households’ situation is more complex and they want longer-term supports to retain their housing, a program must be able to connect households to community and mainstream services to enable longer-term assistance.
In my next blog post, I will provide more detail on the rapid re-housing program philosophy and design standards as they relate to the broader role a rapid re-housing program should play in ending homelessness. In the meantime, don't forget to sign up for our webinar on March 24!