The idea for the RRH program for domestic violence survivors came from Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC). The proposal made a lot of sense. KCADV has operated a successful Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program (TBRA) for five years, providing housing and utility assistance for about 60 survivors in the same service area. KHC believed the approach would work for RRH and encouraged KCADV to apply for funding. TBRA, also funded by HUD, operates like Section 8 vouchers but can be used to assist “difficult-to-house” survivors e.g. undocumented survivors, survivors with criminal records or who owe money to HUD or local housing authorities. Rapid Rehousing Program funds have the same flexibility, but the program and record-keeping requirements are far more rigorous. For example, survivors must be assessed through the Coordinated Entry system and score within a certain range on the coordinated entry assessment tool. Rapid Rehousing funds can be used to pay for application fees and utility and damage deposits as well as for staff and supportive services. Unlike TBRA, RRH funds can be used to pay for staff to administer the program and provide case management services.
The RRH program relies heavily on the strong relationship among KHC, KCADV and KCADV’s 15 member programs. KHC administers an Emergency Solutions Grant program, the only HUD program that funds shelter operations, and the statewide Continuum of Care process, which is used to distribute McKinney-Vento homeless assistance funds. As the administrator for most of the state’s HUD funding, KHC is an important resource for most of KCADV’s member programs. Both parties are in a mutually beneficial relationship. The member programs have been strong participants in the Continuum of Care process -- many of them were around the table when it was created in the mid-1990s.
KCADV has helped facilitate that relationship and helped improve the way the homeless system serves survivors. KCADV and its member programs persuaded state and local housing officials to accept a separate HMIS-comparable, locally hosted data collection process that ensures data is not shared with third parties. And KCADV and its member programs were at the table when KHC began the process of designing and implementing its Coordinated Entry process. KCADV’s advocacy was instrumental in ensuring that all homeless individuals will be screened for domestic violence. Coalition staff helped develop a process that includes domestic violence victims in prioritization rankings while maintaining their confidentiality.
Goals and Accomplishments
Our goal is to provide rental assistance and services about 50 survivors who will be referred by our member programs and their community partners. We will provide them with rental assistance for 12 months with the possibility of a one-year renewal. We want to evaluate how well the RRH program works for survivors and are interested to compare the experiences of survivors housed with RRH funds to those housed with TBRA funds.
We also plan to continue to play a role as local communities build a key part of the Common Assessment infrastructure: Local Prioritization Committees (LPCs). LPCs will be charged with referring homeless individuals and families to appropriate housing. As local communities convene their LPCs, we see an opportunity to ensure the new Coordinated Entry system reaches domestic violence survivors who are not connected to our domestic violence programs.
Finally, survivors in our RRH program will be eligible for KCADV’s Economic Empowerment Services: Individual Development Accounts, micro loans, free credit reports, free tax-preparation services, financial education and financial counseling. Survivors also will be eligible for assistance from the Allstate Purple Purse Fund. Paid for with private dollars, the fund is available to help survivors remove obstacles to self-sufficiency.
For more information about this innovative solution, please contact KCADV.