An Increasing Number of California’s 44 Continuums of Care (CoCs) are Implementing HUD Defined and Funded Joint Transitional Housing and Permanent Housing-Rapid Rehousing Projects

The Joint Component Project was Advanced by HUD
As a “Promising Model” in 2017

  • Transitional Housing Projects Funded by HUD’s Annual CoC Program Competition Decreased by 60% During the Past Five Years While Annual CoC Program Funded Joint Transitional Housing and Permanent Housing-Rapid Rehousing Projects Increased as Detailed for Each CoC in Table 1
  • 15 CoCs Identified in Table 2 are Implementing at Least One Joint Transitional Housing and Permanent Housing-Rapid Rehousing Project with Annual CoC Program Funding Since HUD Promoted the Concept Five Years Ago

As part of the 2017 CoC Program competition, HUD announced that communities could apply for a new type of project that combines the activities of a transitional housing project with those of a rapid re-housing project entitled Joint Transitional Housing and Permanent Housing-Rapid Rehousing (Joint TH and PH-RRH).

The Joint TH and PH-RRH component project combines two existing program components–transitional housing and permanent housing-rapid rehousing–in a single project. Both components, including the units and services supported by the transitional housing component and the tenant-based rental assistance and services provided through the permanent housing-rapid rehousing component, must be provided to participating households.

A few years prior to the 2017 CoC Program competition, HUD stated that

“Transitional housing should be reserved for those populations that most need that type of intervention – programs that serve domestic violence survivors and youth and those that provide substance abuse treatment come to mind first – rather than being used either as a holding pattern for those that really need permanent supportive housing or those that need less intensive interventions.”

HUD also stated

“it is time for CoCs to look at transitional housing programs with a critical eye – look at recent research, review each program’s eligibility criteria, analyze outcomes and occupancy rates, and make sure the services offered (and paid for) actually match the needs of people experiencing homelessness within the CoC. Many transitional housing programs may need to change their program design or serve a different population. For example, some may need to remove strict eligibility criteria that result in those families that really need intensive services being screened out (often resulting in low occupancy). In other cases, the best course of action is to reallocate the transitional housing program in favor of a more promising model.”

A few years prior to the 2017 CoC Program competition, HUD also encouraged reallocation, which was defined

“as a process that CoCs use to shift funds in whole or part from existing eligible renewal projects to create one or more new projects without affecting the CoC’s Annual Renewal Demand. CoCs may use relocation to create new: 

  • PSH (permanent Supportive Housing);
  • RRH (rapid rehousing);
  • Joint TH/PH-RRH component;
  • Dedicated HMIS (Homeless Management Information System); or
  • SO (Supportive Service) for coordinated assessment (CES coordinated entry system).”

 Table 1

As noted in Table 1 below, the number of transitional housing projects that were eligible for renewal in 2017 was 92 and 37 in 2021 representing a decrease of 55 transitional housing projects or 60% according to annual Continuum of Care Grant Inventory Worksheets. The 55 projects were likely reallocated to other program components that included PSH, RRH, Joint TH-RRH, dedicated SO-CES, or may have been defunded by HUD because of low performance.

Also as noted in Table 1, there were 22 Joint TH-RRH projects that were awarded funding by HUD and were eligible for renewal in 2019 according to annual Continuum of Care Grant Inventory Worksheets. There were 21 such projects in 2021.

Table 2

Table 2 below shows that the number of transitional housing projects that were eligible for renewal in 2022 was less than in 2021 according to annual Continuum of Care Grant Inventory Worksheets. In 2022, there were 32 projects eligible for renewal and 37 in 2021, which represents a decrease of five (5) projects or 14%.

Table 2 also shows that the number of Joint TH-RRH projects that HUD awarded funding and were eligible for renewal was 21 in 2021 and 28 in 2022, representing an increase of seven (7) projects or 33% according to annual Continuum of Care Grant Inventory Worksheets.

Will the Number of Joint TH and PH-RRH Projects Continue to Increase?

The HUD 2022 CoC Program competition will provide CoCs opportunities to apply for new Joint TH-RRH projects. Joint TH-RRH projects are an eligible activity for

  • Reallocation a process that CoCs use to shift funds in whole or part from existing eligible renewal projects to create one or more new projects; and
  • Domestic Violence (DV Bonus) to establish projects that serve households fleeing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and other households that meet the criteria of paragraph (4) of the definition of homeless at 24 CFR 578.3, including survivors of human trafficking.

The Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP, which is to support the development and implementation of a coordinated community approach to preventing and ending youth homelessness, allows applicants to apply for Joint TH-RRH projects. Projects that are awarded are eligible for renewal under the annual HUD CoC Program competition.

A one-time Special CoC Program Notice of Funding Opportunity to address unsheltered and rural homelessness also allows applicants to apply for Joint TH-RRH projects. Projects that are awarded will also be eligible for renewal under the annual HUD CoC Program competition.

Is it a Promising Practice? 

While Joint TH and PH-RRH projects are relatively a new intervention, there is local data to determine local outcomes. Such data can be obtained through local Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS). Data collection requirements include universal data elements and program-specific data elements that provide a wide-range of data that can measure outputs and outcomes concerning Joint TH-RRH projects. HUD also provides special data collection instructions for Joint TH-RRH projects. 

While the core components of Joint TH-RRH projects have been identified, CoCs can structure the intervention in different ways, and any leveraged funding sources can allow varying degrees of flexibility. For example, some programs may place more emphasis on front-end case management and one-time financial assistance than on rent subsidies provided over a limited period of time.

Short-term rental assistance often is provided for six months or less, but can last up to two years, and can cover all of the rent or only a portion. Some programs are adopting a “progressive engagement” model in which the amount of assistance needed is re-evaluated over time based on the actual experience of participants maintaining their housing.

HUD notes under special data collection that “Some clients may start off receiving housing placement assistance for several weeks before moving into the TH portion of the project.” Once moved into the TH portion of the project, “participants are able to access services and housing through the project” and expect to have a permanent housing placement in a “reasonably short amount of time.”

Recent studies concerning rapid rehousing have not included a focus on TH and PH-RRH projects. One study, Understanding Rapid Re-housing through Participants’ Experiences, was published in 2020 and stated that “RRH is not a one-size-fits-all strategy—it has proven to be an effective way for some households to stabilize in permanent housing, but less so for others. Like any solution to a complicated problem, RRH has strengths and weaknesses.” Another study, Understanding Rapid Re-housing: What Did We Learn?, also published in 2020  stated that “researchers and academics are in search of stronger evidence regarding the relative effectiveness of interventions that assist households to exit homelessness and obtain stable housing” and focused on rapid rehousing but no mention of TH and PH-RRH projects.

Data for evidence of the intervention can be obtained through local Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) to collectively determine how effective the Joint TH and PH-RRH projects strategy has been in stabilizing some households in permanent housing and less so for others. Like any other solution to a complicated problem, Joint TH and PH-RRH projects will have strengths and weaknesses.

For now, CoCs can use their local HMIS data to determine how effective their Joint TH and PH-RRH projects have been. Using HMIS data can help determine strengths and weaknesses to ascertain how promising the practice of joining TH and PH-RRH has been locally and perhaps share with other local California CoCs.

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