The New Roads Program (one of our homeless and runaway youth programs) runs a successful "Rapid Rehousing Program" which provides rent-supported living spaces to homeless youth as well as ongoing case management and mediation to ensure a positive living environment. Through one-on-one skill building, budgeting and proper housekeeping, Looking Glass clients gain the life skills needed to be great tenants.
Rapid Rehousing has a hugely positive effect on our homeless youth. "Janet," one of our clients, described her experiences.
"Moving into my own apartment was exhilarating! It was the best news I had received in a long time, coming off the streets. I was so excited and relieved."
Janet was four months pregnant when she came to New Roads. Being placed into housing gave her the stability to improve her life.
"My life improved little by little," she explained. "I was able to prepare healthy meals. I was about 4 months pregnant when I moved in so a healthy diet and a safe place to rest made life a lot easier for me. I was able to complete outpatient treatment, have a healthy pregnancy and a warm home to bring my daughter to from the hospital. I eventually got a job and was able to afford a car and start a savings. My life improved in the most positive of ways!"
Once housing is secured, our clients are eligible to receive rent assistance for the first two years with New Roads covering payments directly, financed through federal HUD funding. This also means that property managers have guaranteed rent payments for up to 2 years also, as long as the renter remains in the unit. 70% of our clients remain in their rental units for more than 1 year. The ages of client renters ranges from 16 to 21. If the client has an income stream, they are required to put 30% of their income towards their rent.
We realize that property owners are taking a chance on our young people who often have no rental history and occasionally come with a criminal history. We provide a $2,000 Risk Mitigation Fund per client that can go towards any repairs needed for the unit, should any damage occur. Also, each client has a case manager that checks in on them weekly to make sure their new lives are running smoothly and provide help when needed. And 24-hour mediation support is offered through our crisis line, if needed.
Even with all this support, we are struggling to find rental units that will agree to this program. Right now there are five clients who are ready and able to move into housing, but we are struggling to find property managers willing to rent to them. Until we do, they will continue to live out on our streets.
"Through our involvement in the HUD funded Rapid Rehousing Program we have been able to place some of our community’s most vulnerable homeless youth into permanent housing," Explained James Ewell, Runaway & Homeless Youth Services Manager. "To be able to do this, we rely heavily on local housing providers to partner with us and rent to young people that have several barriers to success. It is our hope to foster new relationships with local property owners to work towards our goal of ending youth homelessness in our community."
Please pass along this call to action to anyone you know with a rental unit who might be interested in participating in this program. Apartments or duplexes with their own locked entrances are most ideal for this program and private landlords are viable options as well. One year leases are required. We would love to build on our network of property managers willing to give our youth a chance and be a part of the solution to end youth homelessness.
If you have interest in learning more or have ways you can help, please contact our Runaway & Homeless Youth Services Manager, James Ewell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-686-4310.