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Rapid Re-housing pilot launched to help homeless families
A new pilot program will move as many as 350 homeless families in King County into rental housing by Dec. 31, 2014, and provide a range of short duration support services to help those families achieve stability. A total of just over $3.1 million will be dedicated to the pilot over the course of the next year.
“This smarter approach will move hundreds of homeless families off the streets directly to a healthier place to live now, while providing the tools they need to get themselves back on their feet,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine in a press release.
The pilot program, Rapid Re-housing for Families, will provide short-term financial assistance and temporary housing-focused supports, including employment and training services, to help remove the barriers that hinder homeless families from accessing and maintaining housing. The program is designed to resolve the housing crisis, while also working with families to move toward independence.
“With rapid rehousing, families in crisis gain a stable foundation to overcome problems and avoid spiraling deeper into homelessness. United Way is pleased to be part of bringing this promising approach to King County,” said Jon Fine, President and CEO of United Way of King County.
One key feature of the pilot is a connected Employment Navigator program. The navigators will provide critical supports to assist in gaining employment as quickly as possible as a means to build their incomes. Families may continue working with the employment navigator on increasing their earning potential even after rapid re-housing assistance has ended. Three agencies will provide employment navigators for homeless families enrolled in the pilot: King County Career Connections, Neighborhood House and YWCA Works.
“Employment and education are top of mind for 83% of families experiencing their first episode of homelessness in King County,” said Alice Shobe, executive director of Building Changes. “We’re proud that this model does not lose sight of the need to simultaneously boost income while providing housing supports and services to families in need.”
Rapid re-housing is an emerging national best practice model with demonstrated results in reducing homelessness. It has proven extremely cost-effective per household in achieving positive housing outcomes, as compared to more traditional homeless interventions such as transitional housing. One study of fourteen communities implementing rapid re-housing found that 85 percent of families served by rapid re-housing programs exited to their own housing at a cost of approximately $4,000 per family (compared to 55% of families exiting to housing at a cost of $22,214 per family in transitional housing). Seven communities also saw reduced rates of returns to homelessness. Families served by a rapid re-housing program had a four percent likelihood of becoming homeless again within the following twelve months, compared to a nine percent likelihood of returning to homelessness after exiting transitional housing.
“We are excited to pilot an innovative new model in King County that incorporates what we have learned about rapid re-housing both nationally and locally, and applies that knowledge in ways that will directly result in helping local families in our communities achieve housing and access opportunities for long-term success,” said Adrienne Quinn, director of the King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS).
Funders and planning partners include King County DCHS, City of Seattle Human Services Department, United Way of King County, Building Changes and the Seattle and King County Housing Authorities.
“Developed with other regional funders, the pilot will help transform our region’s response to homelessness,” said Catherine Lester, Interim Director of the Seattle Human Services Department. “We believe that rapid re-housing is a strategy that can more quickly and more affordably move homeless families with children into stable housing and achieve outcomes that reflect a positive change for our vulnerable citizens.”
Six local agencies will participate in the pilot. They are Catholic Community Services, Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (DAWN), Neighborhood House, Solid Ground, Wellspring Family Services and the YWCA.
"It's an exciting time in our community, using solution-focused interventions that are working and showing promising results nationally,” said Emily Harris-Shears, program manager at Catholic Community Services “Participating in the pilot is inspiring, as it will provide an opportunity to share strategies with other service providers and help our community develop best practices benefiting homeless families in a meaningful way."
For more information on the Rapid Rehousing Pilot Program please call Cheryl Markham, Housing and Community Development Program at 206-263-9067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
-from a press release