Angela and her two young children were living in a vehicle in a local Wal-Mart parking lot; not only was Angela wary of her and her children's safety at local shelters, but she was working and faced conflicts with the shelter hours, her job, and childcare. Denise and her three-year old son had the odds stacked against them: Denise was a sexual assault survivor, had a dual diagnosis of Depression and Bipolar Disorder, and was having trouble finding emergency shelter.
For Angela, Denise, and other families with minor children, The Way Home has been offering a collaborative Rapid Re-housing (RRH) program since January 2015 that helps them find housing as quickly as possible, and then provides them with supportive services and case management to help them remain housed. Families in the RRH program find, sign a lease for, and move into housing and receive short-term rental assistance. Once they move in, they work with a case manager on things like creating a budget; gaining education, employment and/or income, and connecting them with community support like childcare, food assistance, and more.
RRH has been proven to be an effective and cost-efficient solution to homelessness. RRH also places families in fair market housing meaning that they can get back on their feet in their permanent home. In theory, the RRH program is simple and straightforward; however, homeless individuals and families often face unique hurdles that make success in housing difficult.
Denise was enrolled in RRH, but her search for an apartment wasn't easy due to a misdemeanor on her criminal history. Through hard work and with the help of her case manager, she was eventually able to sign a lease for an apartment just a few months after enrolling in RRH.
Denise also wasn't taking her medication when she first enrolled in RRH, but she is now working with staff at both Memorial Assistance Ministries and The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD and is taking her medications regularly. Denise also has an incredibly supportive mother and The Way Home partners who work with her say that she keeps a positive attitude and is working hard to become financially independent.
Once Angela enrolled in RRH, she found housing relatively quickly and began working toward independence, but experienced a setback when she lost her job because she couldn't find affordable daycare for her young children. Until she found another full-time job, she delivered phone books part-time.
Angela completed her education and certification to become a Pharmacy Technician and is currently looking for a job in that field. Her case manager at SEARCH Homeless Services says that Angela has now completed the RRH program and is paying 100% of her rent without any assistance.
Angela and Denise's stories highlight the complexity of homelessness, both in what causes it and how to end it. Even when families and individuals qualify for assistance and enroll in a program, significant barriers can often remain. The partners of The Way Home are committed to working with each homeless individual and family through the entire process, and ensuring that they find housing and remain housed for the long run!