We envision a region in which our resources are sustainable and our residents are economically stable and secure. Together with you, we aim to promote Economic Prosperity in our region by supporting safe and affordable housing, financial literacy, workforce development and training, and environmental education and conservation.
In this section, we will feature initiatives that are advancing change in the area of Economic Prosperity.
Featured Initiative: Rapid Rehousing
Rapid rehousing is a nationally-recognized, best practice approach to move homeless families and individuals into permanent housing as quickly as possible. The goals of this approach are to reduce the length of shelter stays, identify safe and affordable housing and provide case management to ensure stability.
Many people become homeless as the result of a financial crisis or domestic situation. They come from an independent, permanent housing situation and can return to and maintain a stable housing environment with limited support. Rapid rehousing provides that support at a much lower cost than transitional housing. The average cost for per family served in transitional housing is approximately $54,000, while the average cost per family served through rapid rehousing is $4,500. The time spent in shelter is drastically reduced which opens beds for more people and reduces the stress of shelter life for individuals and families.
The rapid rehousing approach has proven effective in our area. The Community Foundation (TCF) funded a rapid rehousing pilot for homeless families in 2009, which led to a 50% reduction in the median length of shelter stay for homeless families over the next 3 year period. Since moving toward a system focused on rapid re-housing, there has been a 13% decrease in the number of children in shelters in the Richmond region. The number of families that return to homelessness after intervention has reduced dramatically. Only 6% of families return to homelessness from rapid rehousing, versus 26% from an emergency shelter.
The positive results achieved through rapid rehousing continue to improve our community. Twice a year, Homeward performs a census of the regional homeless population called a Point-in-time Count. The census performed on January 24, 2013 showed a 3.9% decrease in homelessness from the previous year. Overall, the number of people experiencing homelessness has decreased by 13.9% since its peak in January 2009. More encouraging news from the census is that a record low number of children are living in homeless shelters and the number of veterans living in shelters or on the streets of our region decreased by 31.5%.
Ten Year Plan to Prevent & End Homelessness in the Richmond Region
Homeward 2013 Impact Report
Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness
Article: St. Joseph’s Program for Homeless Changes Course (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2013)