The role of rapid re-housing in ending veteran homelessness

Over the past year, communities across the country have declared an end to veteran homelessness. These communities, which range from small rural areas to large cities, have demonstrated that with the right resources, interventions, and federal and community supports, it is possible to accomplish this goal.

A number of federal and local programs are responsible for providing the resources these communities needed to end homelessness for their veterans, particularly the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program.

While we have blogged about the effectiveness of rapid re-housing it is useful to reflect on the lessons learned from those communities as we work to end homelessness for other populations.

National trends

Since 2009, nationwide veteran homelessness has decreased by 33 percent. Largely responsible for this reduction is the surge in funding, programs, and resources available to assist veterans experiencing homelessness, including SSVF. The SSVF program works both to prevent veteran homelessness and provide rapid re-housing for homeless veterans and their families.

In July 2015, the VA released the FY 2014 Annual Report on the SSVF program, which examines program data from FY 2012 to FY 2014. In this time period, 120,719 veterans and their family members were served with rapid re-housing by the SSVF program.

How SSVF successes can translate to ending homelessness in other populations

SSVF has demonstrated impressive results. Below are our top three takeaways about how this demonstrates how rapid re-housing can be used to end homelessness on a broader scale.

  1. Rapid re-housing is an effective intervention for quickly moving both families and single adults out of homelessness and into permanent housing.

    According to the SSVF report, 73 percent of people rapidly re-housed exited to permanent housing. In fact, 67 percent of those who had zero income and did not receive a permanent housing voucher exited to permanent housing.

    The SSVF program also serves a significant number of single adults as well as families, demonstrating that rapid re-housing can meet the needs of both populations.

  2. Rapid re-housing can prevent households from returning to homelessness.

    93 percent of families and 88 percent of single adult veterans housed with rapid re-housing did not return to homelessness for at least a year.

  3. If rapid re-housing can be used to end veteran homelessness, it can be effective in addressing homelessness in other populations.

    The SSVF program demonstrates that rapid re-housing can be used to quickly move veterans, both families and single adults, as well as those who have zero income, into permanent housing and help support them to stay in that housing.

    This demonstrates how powerful this intervention is in addressing homelessness in other populations and communities.

Communities who have ended veteran homelessness have demonstrated that this goal is attainable for other populations, with dedicated resources for rapid re-housing and other community supports. As rapid re-housing has been used to end homelessness for veterans around the country, it can be taken to the next level to end homelessness for other populations.