Phoenix rapid rehousing program helps more than 250 people, adds to national understanding

06/27/2017, By Valley of the Sun United Way

For Immediate Distribution: June 27, 2017
Contact: Robert Leger | 480-559-3656 or

PHOENIX – A public-private partnership efficiently moved more than 250 people from emergency shelter into apartments of their own, a report released today says.

The report begins to fill in a dearth of research nationally on serving single adults with a rapid rehousing program.

“What we found is that an investment in serving this population pays off in people being housed, and it doesnt have to be a large one,” said Katharine Gale, principal associate at Focus Strategies of Sacramento, Calif.

Based on the idea that the solution to homelessness is a home, rapid rehousing provides temporary rental assistance and a caseworker to help people get back on their feet. While most communities target this approach to families, Phoenix pioneered adding it as an answer for single adults after the substandard Men’s Overflow Shelter closed in 2015.

“Today’s report demonstrates that rapid rehousing works for single individuals, at a cost less than we expected and far less than the price of keeping people homeless,” said Amy Schwabenlender, vice president of community impact for Valley of the Sun United Way.

The report illustrates how the program succeeded and where challenges remain. It adds to the national knowledge base and could lead to changes in federal benchmarks for working with single homeless adults.

Among the factors in the success of the Phoenix program: the unique pooling of $2.5 million in government and philanthropic funds to address homelessness.

Funding was provided by the Phoenix and Maricopa County industrial development authorities, Valley of the Sun United Way, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and Arizona Community Foundation. This unique funders’ collaboration allowed for the creation of a cohesive, flexible program that kept the focus on people and allowed flexibility for mid-stream adjustments.

The report by Focus Strategies of Sacramento, Calif., found:

  • The rapid rehousing program moved 252 people from homelessness into apartments. Another 38 people referred to the program found housing on their own. Nearly four of every five with known outcomes remain in permanent housing.
  • The cost for the rapid rehousing program was less than expected. The funders budgeted for $10,000 per person when the program began. Actual costs were between $4,908 and $7,179, the report found. In contrast, local and national studies have pegged the cost of homelessness at more than $40,000 a year.
  • Combined with a parallel permanent supportive housing program for the chronically homeless, more than 740 people who used emergency overflow shelter at the Human Services Campus gained housing through the funders’ collaboration. These efforts are able to continue with additional funding.
  • Provocative questions remain. In the biggest surprise, the report reveals that people who experienced domestic violence in the past were more likely to return to homelessness after being housed. Why is unclear. “This is why we do evaluations: to learn, explore and improve,” Schwabenlender said.

Today, more than half of the single adults turning to the Human Services Campus would benefit from rapid rehousing. With financial support from the community, Valley of the Sun United Way is committed to continuing this solution that works.

“Many people run into unexpected emergencies that push them into homelessness,” said Bruce Liggett, director of the Maricopa County Human Services Department. “This report confirms that our collaboration had an incredible impact in addressing homelessness and returning people to productive lives. Now, we need to continue it.”

View the full report here


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