3 Phases to Operationalize Homelessness to Housing

Let us make this as easy as possible for everyone to understand and operationalize the phases for Rapid ReHousing and any Housing First program.



If you have a by-name priority list, it comes at the end of Phase 1. For housing, you can only prioritize those that are eligible, have the right acuity level, want to participate, have provided informed consent, and have all of their documents in place. You may have lists before that, like “The List of People We Want to Keep Engaging But Are Not Accepting the Program” or “The List of People We Are Working On Getting Documents in Order”. But if you want the list of people that are in a position to be housed, it is everyone who has gone through Phase 1.


Who does Phase 1?


You need to decide in your community what makes most sense. It is my opinion that having an outreach worker or shelter worker satisfy all of the activities of Phase 1 makes the most sense. There can be a warm hand-off to the next person (housing support worker or case manager) after everything is in order at the end of Phase 1.


In Phase 2 sits all of the housing functions. Because I can think of no School of Social Work that teaches real estate, you may be well served to have a third-party with expertise in the rental market take care of the first action in Phase 2 – Housing Search. But that is up to your community and the expertise that exists. We then need to get people leased up and moved in. Are there going to be some barriers to achieving everything required in Phase 2? Yes. I have yet to be to the community that has more than enough affordable housing or permanent supportive housing. Yet, in all of those places almost every economically poor person with a myriad of issues is already housed. So, it is possible. Will there be difficulties housing certain groups like very young unaccompanied youth, larger families, and people designated as sex offenders? Yes. But people in your community should be funded to complete Phase 2 – not funded to tell you why they cannot achieve it.


Phase 3 is completed by whomever the support worker or case manager is that is helping the household stay housed. The focus of this person is not to heal or fix the person/family, but rather to help them stay successfully housed with whatever issues they may come with, and provide assistance at whatever pace they (the person/family) wants.


Phase 3 starts with stabilizing the person/family in housing by progressively engaging. You want them to show you what skills and strengths they have as you customize your approach to providing supports. Then you can provide coaching to leverage their existing knowledge and new skills. Over time, the individual or family achieves independence (or the greatest amount of independence possible if they are a person that may benefit from a lifetime of supports in some fashion). While not all housing support programs have program exits, if yours is a time-limited intervention through Rapid ReHousing, Critical Time Intervention, or Intensive Case Management, you will be able to exit the household when the greatest amount of independence has been achieved in maintaining housing.

About Iain De Jong

Leader. Edutainer. Coach. Consultant. Professor. Researcher. Blogger. Do-gooder. Potty mouth. Positive disruptor. Relentless advocate for social justice. Comedian. Dad. Minimalist. Recovering musician. Canadian citizen. International jetsetter. Living life in jeans and a t-shirt. Trying really hard to end homelessness in developed countries around the world, expand harm reduction practices, make housing happen, and reform the justice system. Driven by change, fuelled by passion. Winner of a shit ton of prestigious awards, none of which matter unless change happens in how we think about vulnerability, marginality, and inclusion.

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