Presentation Minutes

Rapid Rehousing

  • Anne Marie Edmunds, Pierce County Human Services - (presentation attached –ed.)
  • Who has heard of Rapid Rehousing? – looks like everyone
  • How many folks know how Rapid Rehousing Works?  Looks the Rapid Rehousing folks know (and more who were too shy to raise their hand, I’m sure –ed)
  • Rapid Rehousing is graduated, short term financial assistance and supports in market rate, permanent housing.  That means, we support people to move in to an apartment with their own lease.  Graduated assistance allows the support to grow or shrink – it is the accordion model (I’ve always wanted a Hohner Compadre accordion – supposedly a great option for aspiring accordion players.  Accordions aren’t as portable as my trusty harmonica, but so much higher on the awesomeness scale –ed.) – it can grow or shrink as needed.  Usually it shrinks during the program.  The flexibility is in the amount of rent and the services offered.  The goal is to help folks stabilize in their new space.
  • Transitional Housing.  This model, in the 1980s, was our primary tool to end homelessness.  The Gates Foundation, through the Sound Families initiative, funded a lot of it.  Transitional Housing is site based, which means that programs would master lease an apartment and then sublet to specific people.  Full rent was paid with a maximum stay of 24 month – and most folks stayed the full time.  All services were typically required.  People had to participate in services to stay in the program.  No matter how successful they were, they had to exit in 24 months, hopefully to permanent housing
  • The Feds looked at how successful it is.  The units were used by one household for 24 months, so don’t turn over quickly. The 24 months was thought to be enough to allow folks to get their stuff together.  Folks usually didn’t start working on stability until they were near the end of the their stay.  There was a rush of activity near the end.
  • With Rapid Rehousing - by putting folks in a Permanent situation where they don’t have to transition, we increase the opportunity to increase their stability right away – people are in their own unit, where they can stay, and increase their stability.  As the financial assistance tapers off, they are more self-sufficient.
  • The Family Options Study ( - worth the read if you’re interested in how we choose to fund what we do -ed.) was done by the Federal government, looking at what is the different efficiencies of housing models - what is cost effective, time efficient, and successful.  They compared housing models to housing vouchers.  People are very stable with vouchers, for their whole live, most or all of their housing is paid.  But comparing Rapid Rehousing to Transitional Housing, they found that Rapid Rehousing has about the same percentage outcomes to permanent housing as there are in transitional housing.  However, Rapid Rehousing costs a lot less.   This study gave us information on the differences in costs between Transitional Housing and Rapid Rehousing, and Rapid Rehousing is significantly less expensive.
  • National data showed Rapid Rehousing better than Transitional Housing.  Pierce County divested of their Transitional Housing programs and invested in Rapid Rehousing.  We looked at our own data too, and total cost of transitional housing was $14,800, and Rapid Rehousing was only $5,290.  Costs have changed, but the ratio is the significant element. 
  • We do serve more folks with Rapid Rehousing.  The stay is generally less than 12 months – folks tend to stabilize at around 6 months.  They can stay for a year or 20 months or just 3 months.  The support grows and shrinks with the particular needs of the household.  We exit much quicker than from transitional housing.  For the same amount of funds, we can house more households. 
  • Move in time is longer with Rapid Rehousing, though.  With Transitional Housing, we moved folks in immediately.  With Rapid Rehousing, we use market rate housing, so we are shopping for housing.  In  Pierce County, of all the folks who stay with the program, about 50% move in within 40 days or less.  Another 27% move in in 40-80 days.  A few take a really long time – between 81 and 120 days (10%), or more than 120 days (12%). (data just warms the heart, doesn’t it. –ed)
  • The average length of stay is about 7 months.  Some programs have shorter stays and longer stays, which shows that we work to meet folks where they are and meet the needs of each family
  • Of those that move into a unit, about 85% successfully exit once they move in.  That means they have a lease in their own name and are independent,
  • Sherri – do we know if they are still housed after 1 year?  Anne Marie – we don’t follow up – be we track if they access the homeless system again, and that return rate is quite low.
  • Households average around $6,000 of financial assistance.  We look at percentage of successful exits – The least successful are those folks that we didn’t provide much financial assistance to them. 
  • About 90% of households retain their housing.  Nationally, it is about 85%.   
  • How does Rapid Rehousing fit into the fold?  Coordinated Entry is the front door to our system.  The first step is the creative conversation, or Diversion - one time assistance to get folks housed.  The Diversion conversation is an open-ended, problem solving, strength-based solution that ends in housing.  Staff provide support and limited financial support.  If folks need more funding, we put them on the priority pool.  We don’t call it a waitlist because our pool is priority-based – the most vulnerable and highest barrier get assistance first.  It isn’t a list where you have to wait your time and then you get resources.   Those that rise to the top because of vulnerability and barriers get a referral to a housing program.  A housing program is funding form the county to provide services in a specific model – like Transitional Housing or Rapid Rehousing, a program uses one of those models to end a homeless. 
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