It’s finally here. The phase of the Rapid Re-Housing Works campaign where we get to start talking about practice. For the next few weeks, our focus is going to be on the fundamentals of rapid re-housing, starting with today’s post on the core components – the gears, I like to say – of an effective homeless response system.
After we cover the core components we will dive into what we here like to call the Key Elements for Success; Evidence, Standards, Systems, Partnerships and Resources. We talked about these Key Elements for Success at the recent Rapid Re-Housing Summit and used them as the foundational pillars when strategizing the growth, adoption of and implementation of rapid re-housing that we are so eager to push to scale.
So let’s talk about the core components.
I spend a lot of time on the ground, working in communities and really thinking through the best way to connect the dots for people when it comes to laying out what we know works. And when I think about the homelessness response system I liken it to a well-oiled clock. All of the gears need to be in sync in order to ensure that the clock is not only working, but is accurate.
The same is true of rapid re-housing. In order for the intervention to work, all of the gears – the core components – need to be working and in sync in order to keep the rapid re-housing clock ticking effectively and efficiently in communities. That means ensuring people exit homelessness to permanent housing rapidly. When one of the core components is not aligned, the clock slows, and in some cases, stops completely.
The three core components are:
- Housing Identification: Find Landlords and apartments, fast
- Financial Assistance: Help Pay for housing
- Housing Stability Case Management: Connect to jobs and services
Housing identification means finding landlords willing to rent to people with tenant barriers. Short-term financial assistance gets people with limited resources into that housing. Housing stability case management keeps people in that housing after the financial assistance ends.
It is important that your rapid re-housing clock is ticking to the beat of: ‘find, get, and keep’, ‘find, get, and keep’, ‘find, get, and keep’.
Regular maintenance checks, just like you would wind a clock, are vital to rapid re-housing and the functionality of the core components. Can you imagine rapid re-housing would work without one of its gears? What would your program look like if you didn’t have landlords willing to rent to people? Or if it didn’t offer rent and move-in assistance?
Keep those gears working.
The following are three standard maintenance checks I recommend in order to keep your rapid re-housing clock wound and in sync:
- Rapid re-housing fidelity tune-up: It is important to have a common language and agreement in how we implement each of the core components across rapid re-housing programs. Using the standards found in the Rapid Re-Housing Performance Benchmarks and Program Standards is the best way to ensure fidelity across programs. If one of the gears is not up to standard, it’s time to retune to get the gear functioning with the others.
- Housing homeless people rapidly check-up: Even when a program has all three core components, it’s important that those gears work together seamlessly to move people rapidly from homelessness to housing. The goal of rapid re-housing is to reduce the amount of time individuals and families spend homeless. Keeping an eye on how quickly homeless people are moving into housing is a routine rapid re-housing technique that can determine if those components are working at top performance, and if not, determine what core component gear(s) need to be adjusted.
- Regular benchmark check-in: Regular program evaluation is at the core of determining if the components are having the intended impact(s) for participants. Communities should create dashboards to evaluate how well rapid re-housing programs are performing across all benchmarks. At a minimum, this check-in should take place quarterly. The Rapid Re-Housing Benchmarks Evaluation and Improvement Toolkit provides direction on how you can begin evaluating your rapid re-housing clocks. This information should be used to guide efforts to oil and retune the core component gears in your rapid re-housing efforts.
So as you can see, it is important that the three core component gears in your rapid re-housing clock are well-oiled and in sync, enabling your clock to operate efficiently and effectively to end homelessness in your community. Remember, its ticking – find, get, and keep. find, get, and keep. find, get, and keep.
Our next blog post for the Rapid Re-Housing Works series will be on Key Element for Success #1: Building the Evidence, how to make the case for rapid re-housing as part of your community’s solution to ending homelessness using data and research to tell the story.