Rapid Re-housing: What the Research Says, a report from the Urban Institute, released in June 2015, examines rapid re-housing, an intervention that helps homeless families move into permanent housing by providing short-term rental assistance along with case management services. Drawing upon early findings from evaluations of rapid re-housing, researchers find evidence that rapid re-housing helps families secure housing, but may fall short in addressing the longer-term housing affordability issues that cause homelessness in the first place.
Rapid re-housing is a Housing First approach developed by local homeless service providers to eliminate the barriers to moving homeless families into permanent housing. Housing First models focus on getting families into stable housing first, and providing services once a household is living in permanent housing. Typically, rapid re-housing programs, unlike other Housing First supportive housing programs, provide short-term (less than three months) or medium-term (up to 24 months) assistance.
Two large-scale rapid re-housing evaluations are currently in progress. The Rapid Re-housing for Homeless Families Demonstration (RRHD) is conducting an evaluation of 23 sites, surveying participants and using Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data to track outcomes. The Family Options Study is an evaluation of 12 communities. This study compares the impact of rapid re-housing with other interventions, including project-based transitional housing and permanent housing subsidies.
Early findings from the RRHD study indicate that just 10% of families exiting the Rapid Re-housing Demonstration re-entered homelessness within a year. However, rates of residential instability remain high, with 76% of households moving at least once in the year after exiting the program. Further, families exiting the RRHD still experienced significant challenges one year after exit, with 70% expressing concerns about food security and 57% reporting struggles to afford the rent. Early findings from the Family Options Study suggest that the time limits of Rapid Re-housing created anxiety for participants, as households were not certain how long their assistance would last.
Many important research questions remain about the rapid re-housing approach to family homelessness. Research is needed to evaluate rapid re-housing’s impact on family income and duration of homelessness, as well as the rent burden of families exiting rapid re-housing.
The report, entitled Rapid Re-housing: What the Research Says, is at http://www.urban.org/research/publication/rapid-re-housing-what-research-says