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Homeless need stability-D&C Article-February 14, 2015

Homeless need stability
Carrie Michel-Wynne, Guest Essayist

The YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County is combating homeless in a new way. Thanks to a federal Housing and Urban Development grant, the YWCA was selected as the first ever Rochester and Monroe County HUD-funded Rapid Re-Housing Program for families.

Rapid Re-Housing is a permanent housing option that helps families find safe, affordable housing. This new model allows case workers to assist families to quickly find permanent housing in the community. This is different from the “transitional housing” model of moving a homeless family in crisis to a short-term (typically three to six months) housing situation and then moving them again to permanent housing.

We realized that transitional housing only prolonged the uncertainty and feeling of helplessness that many women and children experience. We also know that Rapid Re-Housing is effective and efficient in ending homelessness for many families and individuals, according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

This method of re-housing has been in use since the late 1980s and early 1990s. Results from these programs have reduced the length of time families stay in shelter, minimizing the destructive impacts of housing instability and related stress. Findings are fairly consistent, often reporting that 90 percent or more of households served remained housed.

The YWCA now has two Rapid Re-Housing programs. One targets single women and the other, a collaboration with Alternatives for Battered Women, targets survivors of domestic violence. Our existing Rapid Re-Housing programs have a 90 percent success rate.

Without rapid re-housing, these families might have been faced with temporary housing without staff support. We can now couple our HUD Rapid Re-Housing resources to help families break the cycle of homelessness by securing housing and offering support services in their home.

The grants provide assistance to individuals and families so that they can remain in permanent housing or get back into permanent housing as quickly as possible..

We know these programs are effective. Let’s continue to combat the scourge of homelessness with programs that benefit the entire Rochester community.

Carrie Michel-Wynne is director of housing at the YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County.

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http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/opinion/guest-column/2015/02/14/homeless-need-stability/23382527/