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26th August
2009
written by naehblog

It’s an interesting time to be working on ending homelessness.

The economy is terrible and creating havoc for a lot of people. Rising unemployment tends to lead to more homelessness – and this recession has had a lot of unemployment.

At the same time, there are some opportunities to make progress. Congress passed an almost $800 billion economic stimulus bill in the spring: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It includes $1.5 billion Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP).

This summer, HUD gave HPRP grants to all 50 states and about 500 cities, counties, and territories. The three-year grants ranged from about $500,000 for smaller cities to $74 million for New York City. These local governments will pass on most of their funds to nonprofit organizations to provide several types of financial assistance and services with the goal of preventing homelessness or helping somebody who has become homeless move into an apartment. Here are some examples of what HPRP will be funding:

Financial Assistance:

  • Up to 18 months of rental assistance, including up to six months of overdue rent;

  • Up to 18 months of utility assistance;

  • Moving costs; and

  • Rental or utility deposits;

Services:

  • Housing search assistance including help finding apartments and negotiating with landlords;

  • Case management;

  • Help applying for and coordinating other services such as employment, child care, etc.

  • Legal services; and

  • Credit repair services.


There is strong evidence that when done smartly, these kinds of programs can reduce homelessness. You can see some examples in this nice little video about the HomeBase program in New York City and this short summary about Rapid Exit in Hennepin County, MN.

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    11/09/2009

    As an over 20 year provider of services and care to the homeless, I have found HPRP in my community to ignore and devalue the work of those of us who provide comprehensive services including nightly shelter to the homeless. Our local government has taken an approach that shelters and other service providers who have been serving and caring are no longer needed (and yes we provide services to rapidly rehouse individuals along with vocational and other supportive services). The local government with little or no experience in direct care is using this money to create an untested and hastily concocted service model to beat the Oct 1 deadline. New people and new agencies inexperienced with the homeless population will now be funded to execute on a model that is untried while those of us who have been doing the work for years who raised questions about the capability and capacity of the model are left on the sidelines. We have heard once the stimulus runs out existing providers will see their money taken to fund the new hires, because of the perception of the increased effectiveness of the new model. C'mon show me a program ever created that is less effective if the government wants to continue to perpetuate it!
    I am not against the purposes of HPRP, we were serving the homeless before it was fashionable and heavily funded by the government and we were getting results with permanent housing placements and retention of those placements. I am frustrated by the HPRP timeline requirement of having to put something in place immediately or we lose the money (meaining the government) and if you don't play our way- you are out. Forget years of homeless coalition planning, SUPER NOFA submissions, we can solve it with coming up with a plan before Sept 30th.
    NAEH I think you should look into how existing homeless service providers are being harmed by HPRP and ultimately how this program will weaken existing service providers to the homeless and put in place services of inferior quality provided by players who are more politically connected and will roll over to government entities. When the stimulus ends what if we have a bigger problem because there are less resources to help?
    I hope NAEH will track the accountability of how this money is used. As a longtime homeless service provider am disheartened that NAEH would not look at the abuses homeless agencies and groups are facing due to governmental needs to grab this money.

  2. Anonymous
    02/10/2009

    This is a a very interesting program that has great intentions but the restrictions or should I say requirements will make it very difficult for anyone to get approved (sustainability, habitability inspections, rent reasonableness,lead-based visual inspections). The target papulation for this program is in need because of the economic downturn, now if we know there is no jobs, how can we talk of sustainability. Lets first address the root causes of homelessness, not just hand out money to landlords