Confusion of Resources: Make Proven Practices Possible through Reinvestment

Invest in change. Spend on impact. (Re)Profile the resources in your community to meet needs. For many communities, this means figuring out how to fund rapid rehousing – or to scale up their rapid rehousing.

While not the case 100% of the time, those communities that struggle the most with figuring out how to make this happen are the ones that will not let go of anything they are currently doing – whether or not that is aligned with ending homelessness – and will entertain it if and only if they have new resources. Peel back the curtain, though, and you can often see opportunities to make rapid rehousing (and other things like expansion of PSH or housing-focused street outreach) if – and only if – the organization/community is brave enough and strategic enough to change what they have always done.

Let’s look at a few common examples:

  • Scattered site transitional housing can be (relatively) easy to transform into a rapid rehousing program.
  • Survival based street outreach that hands out socks, sleeping bags, tarps and the like would be better spent providing rapid rehousing directly from the street.
  • Using homelessness and housing resources to fund substance use recovery programs (residential or otherwise), is essentially letting health and addiction funders off the hook, and misusing housing resources for treatment. Homelessness and housing resources could be spent on rapid rehousing. Yes, resources may be necessary for treatment, but don’t use your homelessness and housing resources to fund it.
  • Extensive programming within shelters such life skills training, budgeting programs, socio-recreation programs, etc. are well intentioned but misplaced when in shelter. These resources would be better spent on rapid rehousing and providing these types of supports in community.

We do not provide services in an environment of unlimited resources. I have yet to find the community that feels they have more money or staff resources than they know what to do with, and therefore, need to make more intelligent and informed decisions on investing. Rapid rehousing is worth investing in. Don’t confuse where money has always been invested with where it should be invested.

Iain De Jong

About Iain De Jong

2 Responses to “Confusion of Resources: Make Proven Practices Possible through Reinvestment”

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  1. I essentially agree on most of your points. However, certain elements of a local context could make your recommendations difficult to implement. Our housing landscape has some of the most out-of-reach rents in the nation, particularly for people experiencing homelessness. Rapid rehousing is very challenging (although we still manage to do it) in a tight housing market where we don’t have many abandoned or vacant units that could be offered up to house homeless persons.

    Thank you for helping us see the need to invest funding differently. I agree that housing funds should not be used for services. Unfortunately, many of our service funders do not realize that serving homeless persons often requires more experience with that particular population and traditional services don’t always have good outcomes with that population. So leaving the treatment of homeless persons entirely up to traditional MH or SA providers doesn’t always deliver good outcomes. Changing funding strategies also requires government officials who are willing to work together to make it happen. Service providers can try all we want to make things better. If government funders don’t commit to reallocation of funding to cover the treatment services from a more “appropriate” source, converting treatment funds to housing funds will simply move people into housing only to lose their housing because they do not have the appropriate supports to sustain them.

    Overall, your points are well taken and make sense. It’s where the rubber meets the road that providers get skeptical.

  2. James Carey says:

    What this young man has done is remarkable! The VI-SPDAT has assisted many housing programs with identifying the most vulnerable persons experiencing homelessness and has allowed housing programs the chance to target those people and assist them in a expeditious manner. So continue the great work Mr. DeJong as we fight the fight to end homelessness and not manage it.