What is Rapid Re-Housing?
Rapid Re-Housing is a financial assistance program aimed at preventing individuals and families from becoming homeless and helping those who are experiencing homelessness to be quickly re-housed and stabilized. Rapid Re-Housing is a Housing First strategy – a process whereby a housing crisis is addressed immediately, without waiting for or requiring that clients resolve any other issues. This is practical – people are in a better position to address complicated or chronic problems when they are safely housed.
Click here for information on rapid re-housing from the National Alliance to End Homelessness: http://www.endhomelessness.org/pages/prevention-and-rapid-re-housing
Rapid Re-Housing is funded in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District area through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Rapid Re-Housing assists with rental / utility deposits and rental subsidies paid directly to property managers through service provider grantees. Plus, Rapid Re-Housing can provide support services designed to assist risky renters to be stable tenants. Supportive Services can include coaching in finance management, neighbor relations, goal setting, boundary setting and navigating the complex variables that come along with housing.
Area agencies receiving these funds and/or working with rapid-re-housing clients include Equity, The Haven, PACEM, Salvation Army, Shelter for Help in Emergency, City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County Schools, and the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless, among others.
What are the Benefits for Recipients, Property Managers, & the Community?
ü Security deposits. Many people can afford the monthly rent, but some have difficulty saving enough money for their security deposit. As a result, Rapid Re-Housing can help clients with this one-time payment.
ü Access to subsidies. Eligible individuals receive a subsidy to help them cover the first three months of their rent. This allows clients time to stabilize and build an emergency fund for the future.
ü Ongoing assistance. Individuals who continue to have financial issues receive financial assistance based on their income and savings. Re-evaluation occurs quarterly up to 24 months.
ü Support Services. Case management and other support services are available for as long as financial assistance is needed. With support, people can correct past mistakes and prevent future problems. Through the network of service provider partners, individuals and families have access to an array of services that lead to self-sufficiency and success.
ü Conflict Mediation. Supportive services extend to mediation between tenant and property manger when lease violations occur. Mediation services are neutral and can ensure that conflict is resolved quickly and impartially. When a violation does occur, property managers can contact a service provider who will in turn inform and work with the tenant to make better choices and avoid lease violations.
ü Helping Helps. Safe, affordable housing is a universal need regardless of past choices. Approving a lease for an individual or family enrolled in Rapid Re-Housing is an integral part of helping people take charge of their lives and making the community a better place.
Who is eligible for rapid re-housing & how is eligibility determined?
Rapid re-housing is available to individuals and families experiencing homelessness, defined by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development as follows:
* individuals and families who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence including those residing in a shelter or place not meant for human habitation and those exiting and institution where they resided temporarily
* individuals and families who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence
* individuals and families who are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence
How can I access Rapid Re-Housing Funds?
Provider: Equity, a program of Thrive, formerly called AIDS/HIV Services Group
Staff: RRH Coordinator, to be hired by Thrive ASAP
Funder: Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development
Eligibility: RRH is available to individuals and families experiencing literal homelessness, which includes individuals and families currently staying in an emergency shelter, living in a place not meant for human habitation, staying in a hotel/motel paid for by a service provider, or at imminent risk of eviction. In addition, households must be at or below 30% of area median income and have no additional resources.
Priority: RRH will be provided based on results of a modified Hennepin County Rapid Re-Housing Triage Tool, which will be completed immediately following a coordinated assessment interview. Best practice dictates that those with the highest level of scoring be matched with available permanent supportive housing beds, unless the Community Case Review Team determines otherwise. Best practice further dictates that those with the two lowest levels of scoring be matched with mainstream resources and housing navigation, but not with rapid re-housing services or subsidies.
Process: Rapid re-housing is provided in three distinct phases:
1) Housing search and location: a Housing Navigator has been funded by the ABRT process and DHCD and will be based at Equity. Equity will hire for this position ASAP. The Housing Navigator will help households to identify potential housing options, negotiate leases and secure permanent housing. The Housing Navigator will accept clients from among the rapid re-housing pool and outside of that pool. In addition, the Housing Navigator will develop relationships with area landlords by providing information and education on homelessness and rapid re-housing programs.
2) Housing subsidy: RRH subsidies will be provided by Equity. The RRH Coordinator will maintain all appropriate case records and enter data into HMIS.
3) Housing stabilization: While the RRH Coordinator must provide monthly case management to all households receiving RRH services, the high demand for housing stabilization activities will require help from all area providers. To that end, the Community Case Review Team will create housing stabilization plans for all households receiving RRH services. These plans will be implemented by case managers already working with the household or by members of the Community Case Review Team.
Waiting List: A ‘dynamic’ waitlist of between 5-10 households eligible for rapid re-housing will be maintained by Coordinated Assessment at The Haven. This ‘dynamic’ list changes continuously based on the influx of newly identified eligible households and priority status. As a result, there is no traditional, first-come/first-served waitlist. Depending on operational choices made by TJACH, the Community Case Review Team and Equity, and funding availability, this list may be opened at regular intervals to accept new households. When funds become available, The Haven will forward the name(s) to Equity for service provision.
Enrollment: Equity will schedule an enrollment appointment with forwarded households to confirm eligibility and begin the subsidy process. There is no guarantee of a specific number of subsidized months for enrolled households. A case-by-case decision is made to determine how much subsidy a household will receive, whether and how much the household will be required to contribute to the cost of housing, and how long the subsidy will be in place. Eligibility is determined every 90 days, at a minimum.
Implications: Many people providing and receiving services in the community are accustomed to a traditional waitlist process for allocating services and funding. As a result, this ‘dynamic’ list, based on prioritized eligibility, will not appear or feel fair. It is critical that the service provider community use different language to describe this process and help manage client/guest expectations. It is also important that service providers seek and access all mainstream and community resources to provide housing for households, whether rapid re-housing is available.
Funding: DHCD has awarded this community $171,368 for RRH for FY15. Of these funds, $4,000 will be dedicated to a pilot project with Albemarle County and Charlottesville Departments of Social Services, $9,100 will be used to support the Housing Navigator position, and up to $23,740 may be used to support the case management activities of the RRH Coordinator position. That leaves $134,528 for rapid re-housing.
Current Status: Given the current number of households receiving RRH, there are no funds available to enroll new households in RRH. It is critical that this community work on housing stabilization activities with the households receiving services so that they no longer require a subsidy to remain housed. This is the only way additional funds will become available.
If you are working with a client you believe is eligible for rapid re-housing, please complete a Coordinated Assessment Packet for them and request a place on the Community Case Review agenda so that your client can be considered for available funds.