UMCM's Rapid Rehousing Program works with individuals and families experiencing homelessness to achieve housing stability by providing basic rent and other expenses. The first priority is to keep or place the family in a safe home that meets their basic needs. To this end, the participants meet with a case manager for a needs assessment and the creation of an Individual Housing Plan. The participants meet with the case manager monthly for accountability to review the educational and career goals they have set. The goal is for the clients to become self-sufficient; that they are employed and make enough money to pay their rent and expenses each month.
One such case was Emily Fitzgerald, a single mother, who became homeless after struggling through a divorce. Referred by a local transitional housing program, UMCM was able to help Emily get into her own apartment. Through her efforts and UMCM's assistance, Emily attained stability and lived in that apartment for more than 15 months before moving to be closer to family.
There is a shift underway to move from implementation of a Rapid Rehousing model to Housing First model. The Housing FIrst model places families in homes first and supports the family while employment is sought and other skills are obtained that lead to financial stability to support housing expenses. Successful programs from around the country, such as those in Houston and Denver indicate that overall, this is a less expensive and a more effective way to combat homelessness.
UMCM adopted the Housing First model in 2016, setting goals for people seeking assistance. While in the program, the family is being housed and supported by UMCM Suncoast. The family learns about finances and budgeting and through program participation becomes able to demonstrate a long-term plan for maintaining a household budget. After completion of the program, the family participates in a follow up call with a case manager on a quarterly basis to assess their continued stability. The program goal is that 85% of families will still be stably housed after one full year out of the program.
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