Rapid Rehousing takes the “Housing First” approach to ending a person’s homelessness. Tenant based rental assistance is offered without precondition to people who are literally homeless (in a shelter or living in a place not meant for human habitation) with the objective of moving out of homelessness and into an apartment as soon as possible. Program participants then work on other issues from the safety, security, and peace of their new home. HOPES Center provides case management whichassists them in achieving housing stability through mental health services, primary health care, substance abuse treatment, and income through employment or benefits. The ultimate goal is for the rapid rehousing participant to be able to take over payment of the unit after completing the rapid rehousing program and remain permanently housed.
When an opening is available in the HOPES Center’s rapid rehousing program, participants are selected through the coordinated entry system of the Continuum of Care for the City and County of Racine. People who are residing in Racine shelters or have contact with the street outreach team complete a vulnerability assessment and are placed on a housing prioritization list. Rapid Rehousing selects people from that list based on vulnerability and the length of time someone has been homeless.
HOPES Center has between 20 and 35 participants in its Rapid Rehousing program at any given time. New participants are brought in as others graduate from the program and take over their units.
Rapid Rehousing is funded by an Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) through the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Administration, and Continuum of Care (COC) grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These grants are matched by private funds from the Racine Dominican Mission Fund, Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, Racine Community Foundation and other private donations. There are significant funds available for rapid rehousing programs that help people transition out of homelessness, but raising the required matching funds is one of the constraints that needs to be overcome in order to serve more people experiencing homelessness and assist them to enter a place that they can call home.