When I started at the Alliance a few years ago, I could count the number of youth rapid re-housing (RRH) providers I knew on my two hands. But those providers were doing some really exciting work — even the way they talked about youth homelessness was different. I know now that they were speaking about Housing First, which wasn’t always our country’s approach to youth experiencing homelessness.
Now, thanks to the leadership of innovative youth RRH providers and the advocacy of young people themselves, more and more communities are embracing Housing First and embedding it in their responses to youth homelessness. In fact, according to our calculation, since 2014, Continuum of Care (CoC) funding for youth RRH has increased by over 2,000%!
The even more amazing part is that this doesn’t account for other funding pools that have connected young people with RRH, including:
- Non-population-specific McKinney-Vento RRH funding
- RRH funds from the
- Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which serves many young parents experiencing homelessness.
- Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, which serves a small number of young veterans experiencing homelessness.
Regardless of funding source, the huge increase demonstrates that RRH, once missing from the national response to youth homelessness, works for young adults. And as we’ve learned from the Alliance’s Rapid Re-Housing for Youth Learning Community (RRH4YLC), youth RRH providers just keep getting better at implementing the model.
Additional Urgency for RRH
Recent data provides another reason to ramp up youth RRH: the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress (Part 1), revealed that at least half of the young people experiencing homelessness on a single night were unsheltered.
Why does RRH matter for unsheltered youth? Because RRH is not just a housing model; it’s a foundational part of a systemic response to homelessness.
In other words, this isn’t just a matter of creating more shelter to accommodate unsheltered youth. It is also a matter of amplifying our existing shelter capacity by increasing the flow out of homelessness. And this can be done by dedicating more resources to permanent housing assistance with RRH.
Of course, this isn’t an either/or calculation. Communities do need more crisis housing capacity for unsheltered youth, and new CoC options like the TH-RRH joint component can help with that. But because housing is the solution to homelessness, we must weight our resources toward that to improve the flow from homeless to housed for young people.
What We Hear From the Field
Given the uptick in youth RRH, it’s not surprising that members of the RRH4YLC are ready to move beyond RRH for Youth 101. That’s why the Alliance and our partners will launch a third year of the Rapid Re-Housing for Youth Learning Community!
The RRH4YLC convenes new and experienced youth RRH providers, local and state homeless system and mainstream agency administrators, and national partners who are interested in learning more about youth RRH. Together, they share information with one another to increase and improve youth RRH.
The 2019 RRH4YLC will include all-new content designed to help communities improve not only their youth RRH practice, but also their system-level response to youth homelessness. You can look forward to expert trainings and in-depth conversations about important systemic-response topics like progressive engagement, diversion, and coordinated entry and assessment.
We’ll also continue to explore best practices and challenges at the program level, including:
- Making the shift to Housing First.
- Creating authentic partnerships with young people in RRH (including supporting them in creating and leading their own youth RRH programs).
- Ensuring client success in tough housing markets.
If you’re interested in being a part of the 2019 RRH4YLC, sign up for the March 12, 2019, kick-off webinar now!