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July 7, 2015 / Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Fixing the rapid rehousing program

As part of their new study, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) took a closer look at the rapid rehousing program and found it to only be a temporary fix for families in need, rather than a viable solution. While some agencies disagree with HUD’s findings, they can agree that more work could be done to improve the program. (NPR, 7/7)

“Rapid rehousing is not a magic solution,” [Jennifer Ho, senior adviser on housing and services at HUD] says.

Her agency has found that families that get rapid rehousing are just as likely later on to face the same housing problems as families that stay in shelters: Many of them end up returning to a homeless shelter, doubling up with family and friends or moving from place to place.


Laura Zeilinger, Washington, D.C.’s new director of human services, says some of the complaints about the program are legitimate. In the past, she says, the city sometimes used rapid rehousing in a punitive way, as a stick to motivate families to get work, even though they clearly needed more help.

She’s trying to change that, Zeilinger says, “to really support families differently, to say we really believe in your potential to be able to make it in the long run and we are here with you to support you in doing so.”

This includes providing other services, such as job training and education, that people need to be able to afford their own place.

She and others in the field take issue with some of HUD’s findings, noting that the study looks at only 12 communities, over a limited time period. And, Zeilinger says, there are few alternatives. Ho, of HUD, agrees that the goal is to improve rapid rehousing, not to replace it.

– On the heels of their recent annual meeting, Consumer Health Foundation president and WRAG board member, Dr. Yanique Redwood, builds on a powerful metaphor that was presented at the event about systemic racism and its far-reaching and long-lasting effects. (CHF, 7/6)

– A new report from the Women Donors Network finds significant gender and racial disparities in the number of local and state prosecutors across the country. The study comes about at a time when much attention has been given to the lack of diversity in many police forces, while very little has been placed on the lack of diversity elsewhere within the criminal justice system. (NYT, 7/7)

HEALTH | Opinion: Brian Castrucci of the de Beaumont Foundation looks at the U.S. healthcare system’s tendency to focus on treatment over prevention and how illness is all too often incentivized. (HuffPo, 7/2)

PHILANTHROPY | Opinion: In Search of the Magic Formula for Philanthropy (Chronicle, 7/6)

Have you ever wondered who started referring to the greater Washington area as the “DMV?”

– Ciara


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