A Return to Homeless Services: What’s at Play?

A Return to Homeless Services: What’s at Play?
Molly Brown, Danielle Vaclavik, Dennis P. Watson, Eric Wilka
Psychological Services
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The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), the federal government’s largest effort to prevent the effects of long-term homelessness, provided short-term financial services to individuals and families who were recently homeless or at risk of homelessness. The $1.5 billion program ran from 2009 to 2012 and intended to reduce adverse social and health outcomes associated with long-term homelessness through financial assistance and housing relocation and stabilization services. There is limited research on long-term outcomes of single adults who participated in HPRP. This study fills that gap, using data from the Indianapolis, Indiana, Homeless Management Information System from 2009 to 2015 to examine the risk of single adults’ return to homeless services. The study found that only a few permanently housed single adults return to homeless services, and reentry tended to occur soon after assistance was provided. More than half returned within two years. The authors emphasize the need for future experimental research that examines prevention and re-housing interventions for single adults. Studies should identify unique needs of veterans and other subgroups experiencing homelessness and in need of re-housing.

Key findings

  • 5 percent of permanently housed HPRP participants and 16.9 percent of non–permanently housed single adults returned to homeless services (with an average follow-up of 4.5 years after leaving HPRP).
  • 4 percent of permanently housed and 15.8 percent of non–permanently housed homelessness prevention recipients reentered services.
  • 8 percent of permanently housed and 18.2 percent of non–permanently housed rapid re-housing recipients reentered during the follow-up period.
  • Veterans, single adults receiving rapid re-housing services, and adults whose incomes did not increase during HPRP had significantly greater risk of returning to homeless services.