So much of homelessness has changed in recent years. It used to be that the economy wasn’t a source of homelessness, except for a very few people. But now, the economy is a much bigger driver of homelessness. It used to be that the design of our economy didn’t make people homeless, but only made it difficult for people to leave homelessness, but now it cannot be denied the role of our economy in creating homelessness. And getting out of homelessness? Well, that journey is now more difficult than ever for the average homeless person – all the more reason why homeless people need the help of the whole community in recovering from homelessness. And this community approach is showing the most promise. In addition to “Housing First” for the chronically homeless, “Rapid Rehousing” is working wonders for those who have been homeless a very short time, and only need a little assistance in reclaiming their lives.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness:
- people served with rapid re-housing are homeless for shorter periods of time than those assisted with shelter or transitional housing;
- more people exit to permanent housing from rapid re-housing programs than from shelter or transitional housing;
- compared to those people who exit to permanent housing from transitional housing or shelter, those that exit through rapid re-housing are less likely to return to homelessness; and
- rapid re-housing is less expensive per exit to permanent housing than shelter or transitional housing.
An example of Rapid Rehousing would include assessing people as they entered a homeless shelter for the first time. Focusing on those who still have an income – they may have lost their home but they are still employed. The shelter would then provide financial aid, perhaps paying a months rent and deposits for move in and utilities for a new apartment. This gets the homeless person right back out of homelessness, and in the long run saves the shelter money that it would otherwise spend on the person as he/she stayed in the shelter for several months.