Designing Rent Subsidy Programs: Lessons Learned National Alliance to End Homelessness National Conference Tom Albanese July 13, 2011
Objectives• Discuss lessons from HPRP• Understand variety of rental assistance strategies, with focus on – Tailoring rental assistance based on individualized assessments – Use of progressive, assessment-based engagement• Understand how to establish and leverage creative partnerships
Program Design Decisions• Service interventions – Type – Duration – Intensity/Amount• Limitations: $, funder requirements, admin/fiscal capacity• Decision-making – At intake • Initial screening and assessment – Ongoing
Rental Assistance/SubsidyChallenge: develop time-limited rental subsidy program forhouseholds without sufficient income to pay rent and utilitiesin even a very modest apartment. – Investigate and select one or more subsidy models (e.g., income-based, unit-based, declining). – Develop qualification and prioritization criteria. – Define client expectations for keeping the subsidy, including frequency of re-assessment. – Define the criteria and process for early termination of a subsidy, including due process rights for the tenant and procedures for appeal.
Rental Assistance/Subsidy - Approaches • One-Time/Lump Sum vs Ongoing – One time assistance can be coupled with ongoing “as needed” assistance • Income based Subsidy (e.g., 30% of adjusted gross income) – Can be deep or shallow – Assurance that rent will be paid even if HH income changes – May inhibit HH from increasing income, moving to smaller, more affordable unit – Difficult to budget without past experience/data – Cliff effect2010 NAEH Annual Conference 5
Rental Assistance/Subsidy - Approaches • Fixed Subsidy – Could be based on the rent cost, household size, apartment size, or some other factor (e.g., $300 for a two bedroom apartment, $400 for a three bedroom unit). – Fixed and does not vary, regardless of income changes. – Can be deep (sufficient to pay all or a majority of the monthly housing expense) or very shallow (paying just a small proportion). – Based on analysis of rental market and of how much subsidy the program’s target population would need to obtain or retain housing in that market. – Challenge: deep enough to enable the majority of assisted households to maintain housing, but shallow enough to avoid the cliff effect2010 NAEH Annual Conference 6
Rental Assistance/Subsidy - Approaches • Graduated/Declining Subsidy – Income based or fixed – Subsidy declines in “steps” based on fixed timeline, case plan milestones until household ability to assume housing costs. – Steps known in advance and can act as deadlines for increasing income. • Combination of above – Example: fixed, shallow subsidy with ability to adjust under certain conditions • All of the above can serve as “bridge subsidy” – Temporary assistance to help obtain/maintain housing until a longer term or even permanent subsidy becomes available. – Requires confidence that longer-term subsidy is available and when available2010 NAEH Annual Conference 7
HPRP: What Have We Learned?HPRP Year 1:• Rental assistance: – 60% of prevention clients – 46% of RRH clients• 44% of people participated 30 days or less• 92% exited the program within 6 months (180 days) of program entry• 94% exited to permanent housing – 90% to rental housing
HPRP: What Have We Learned?• Housing barrier-focused assessment and service intervention decision-making – Housing screening barriers – what a landlord may use to ‘screen-out’ applicants (e.g., income, credit history, rental history, etc.) – Housing retention barriers - problems that caused past housing loss and may cause future housing loss (e.g., income, past issues as predictors of potential future issues, etc.)
HPRP: What Have We Learned?• Program design flexibility – within constraints of HPRP Notice• Target population influences program design and vice versa• Client needs vary – no “one-size fits all”• Greater individualization and flexibility requires… – Different payment processing & admin/fiscal capacity – Close monitoring of budget vs actual expenditures – Ongoing, progressive assessment with participant – More supervision – Fair, transparent decision-making; right to appeal
HPRP: What Have We Learned?• Operationalizing “just enough” approach – Alameda, San Jose, San Francisco, Lancaster: Case managers use a budgeting tool and process with clients to determine the specific gap needed to be filled. – Little Rock: Also uses an agreement that outlines “need-based” principle of the program. Continuous communication between client and case manager. Reassessments conducted whenever a plan objective is met.
HPRP: What Have We Learned?• Partnerships are critical• Landlords = most valued resource • Housing Authority and other privately owned subsidized housing• Know the rental market and establish partnerships – Landlords are essential partners – identify and develop lasting, mutually beneficial relationships – Staff must be housing market “experts” – awareness of options and knowing how to access all types of housing options is job #1 – Tailor landlord “incentives” to fit the local housing market, landlords risk-tolerance and the client’s barriers. – Consider specializing staff functions (e.g. Housing Locator)• Mainstream benefits & community-based providers 12
HPRP: What Have We Learned?• Arlington County, VA: – Created new Housing Locator position, who helps clients negotiate with landlords to reduce or absolve rental arrears and fees. – Partners with Virginia Cooperative Extension for financial education (one-on-one counseling and group workshops). – Connects households to employment and training services through Arlington Employment Center. An AEC case manager provides dedicated support to HPRP households. 13
HPRP: What Have We Learned?• Where homelessness cannot be prevented, it can be ended quickly for the overwhelming majority of households• Most households will successfully exit homelessness with limited assistance• Households with moderate to severe housing barriers may require more intensive and/or expensive assistance to exit homelessness – but most can still succeed with temporary assistance• Assuring households can sustain housing does not mean households will no longer experience housing or life problems or that they will achieve “affordable” housing.• Everyone is housing ready (programs need to be client-ready) 14
Additional Resources:HUD Homeless Resource Exchange: www.HUDHRE.info – Designing and Delivering HPRP Financial AssistanceNAEH: www.endhomelessness.org – Rapid Re-Housing: Creating Programs that Work – Homelessness Prevention: Creating Programs that Work