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New Study Shows that St. Vincent de Paul Baltimore’s Front Door Rapid Re-Housing Program is a Success

March 16, 2018 - Abt Associates,  a global leader in research and program implementation released the results of a 3-year study of our Front Door Rapid Re-Housing program.

  • 71 percent of families retained permanent housing
  • 93 percent of families did not return to homelessness
  • 64 percent of families improved their employment status

What is rapid re-housing?

Homelessness can have a severe and long term negative impact on families. The impact of homelessness is most profound on children, and can have life-long negative effects.

Rapid re-housing is designed to enable households to exit shelters quickly by assisting them in finding a housing unit in the community. It’s  a proven, best practice strategy for helping people  return to permanent housing, and stay housed. It is also one of the most cost-effective permanent housing interventions — and a critical part of the overall plan to achieve a functional end to homelessness in Baltimore City.

Program design

We launched our Front Door program in 2014, with funding partners —  including The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the Abell Foundation, United Way of Central Maryland, and the City of Baltimore.

The Front Door program provides all families with a standard initial package of assistance: security deposit, the full first month of rent, and 75 percent of the unit's rent for two additional months. Additional assistance – both rental assistance and other types of financial assistance, such as furniture provision, utility payments, and move-in costs – are determined based on individual client need.

Case management and workforce development services are a key component. Families meet at least monthly with their case manager, and often more frequently than that during the initial stages of the program. Additionally, all families are offered workforce development services, which included resume assistance, job preparedness services, and linkages to employment programs.

Another key feature is a built-in flexibility for program improvement. Throughout the 2014 to 2016 program period, Front Door leadership responded to feedback from program participants and other stakeholders by modifying program processes that could be clearer or more efficient. 

Program evaluation

With The Weinberg Foundation we contracted Abt Associates to conduct an evaluation of the program to both examine how the program was designed and implemented and the effect of the program through client outcomes.  The evaluation sought to answer three key questions:

  1. Does the Front Door Rapid Re-Housing program improve housing stability among families?
  2. Do participating families improve income or employment and move toward self-sufficiency?
  3. Do participating families experience improvements in child educational outcomes and food security?

Findings

A typical family served by the program was a single parent household, headed by an African American woman between the ages of 25 and 34 (average age of 32), with two children.

The evaluation pointed to three key areas for continual improvement:

  • Longer subsidy periods with shallower subsidy amount - average length of subsidy was 4 - 5 months with 6 months of assistance
  • Further develop landlord outreach and engagement - challenges with landlords. Important cultivate good landlord relationships
  • Deeper, career-focused employment services. Build on success and strengthen the model.

You can download the Evaluation of the St. Vincent de Paul Baltimore’s Front Door Rapid Rehousing Program here.