Early intervention the key to ending homelessness

The big question here at CHP is: “how do you end homelessness?” Although the answer is complex and requires a multi-pronged approach, there is strong evidence to show that getting people into housing as quickly as possible is a good place to start. This approach, known as rapid re-housing, is premised on the housing first philosophy that once people are in secure housing they can start addressing the issues that have contributed to their homelessness. This prevents problems from escalating.

The core elements of a rapid re-housing program are:

  • Aimed at people who have previously held a tenancy
  • An emphasis on getting permanent housing as quickly as possible (in the United States this is under 30 days)
  • Providing rent subsidies to help people secure a house
  • Support to maintain the tenancy

There’s also an emphasis on support being temporary, as it’s designed to get families into a position where they can once again support their own accommodation. However, in the United States these programs have successfully been extended to include people and families who haven’t necessarily met these criteria and can include people escaping domestic violence and people with substance misuse issues. An overview of CHP’s rapid re-housing policy can be found on our website.

Some of the strongest evidence in favour of rapid re-housing comes from the United States, where programs were trialled during the mid – late 2000’s. In New York for example, the Advantage Program was set up and studied between 2005 and 2011. Despite the recession that hit in 2008, during this time the overwhelming majority of families who left shelter on a rapid re-housing subsidy didn’t return to shelter, and 80 percent were still in a home three years later. The full report can be found on the National Alliance to End Homelessness website.

In Australia, there is growing evidence to suggest rapid re-housing will work here too. The Accommodation Options for Families (AOF), a partnership between housing organisations in Victoria, supported 416 children and 174 families over 15 months. Through AOF they were able to move out of crisis and achieve greater stability for their children, decreased anxiety, better meet their children’s needs and manage their finances better. The full report can be found here

Rapid re-housing is a key plank of CHP’s state election platform. Full details of our election platform can be found here, along with other information relating to homelessness.