Ask NCFY: What Is Rapid Re-Housing and How Can it Help Runaway and Homeless Youth?

Photograph of a young woman carrying a moving box.

Q: What is rapid re-housing and how can it help runaway and homeless youth?

A:  “Essentially rapid re-housing is exactly what it sounds like,” says Tiana Brown, rural housing coordinator for The Salvation Army Ohio in Delaware, OH. “It’s moving folks directly from homelessness quickly into their own homes.”

In addition to quick access to a stable home in which clients can stay even after they stop receiving social services, programs following this model offer case management, life-skills training and financial assistance. Some research has shown this approach can be effective at ending the cycle of homelessness for many people.

Rapid re-housing is a lot like the Family and Youth Services Bureau’s Transitional Living Program for Older Homeless Youth. The main difference is that the housing offered by many transitional living programs is just that—transitional—and youth and their case managers must find other housing options once the young person “graduates” from the program.

Brown’s rapid re-housing program for youth in four Central Ohio counties, which started in 2009, remains one of a handful in the country. One obstacle to promoting the model more widely as a solution to youth homelessness is the reluctance of some landlords to rent to young people, Brown says.

"Landlords are less willing to take a chance,” she says. “It is a ton of advocacy, a lot of selling up your program, selling why your program works well.”

Despite the challenges, Brown thinks rapid re-housing can really work for homeless youth. She says, “We’ve had really great success and find that when [youth] have something that is their own, eventually they learn--whether it’s at the beginning or the end [of the program]. They respect their own space and they want to keep it."

The National Alliance to End Homelessness has a wealth of resources on rapid re-housing.

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