The Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness (ICPH) analyzed Mercer County’s two rapid-rehousing programs, one that began as far back as 2009, finds that the Mercer County Board of Social Services (MCBOSS) “implemented a program that uses public-assistance dollars efficiently to rehouse families and save the county money.”
The report credits MCBOSS for not engaging in the practice of “creaming” but, rather, serving “even the most difficult-to-serve families” and giving “extra attention” to the “most vulnerable of TANF recipients.”
The case study posits that the program’s success can be attributed in large part to MCBOSS’ role as negotiator of below-market rental rates for subsidy recipients, a practice that benefits both recipients and landlords in Trenton, New Jersey, which has a high vacancy rate. The report points out that while this may be a promising practice in localities that are experiencing a depressed housing market, its success is less certain in areas where there is more competition for housing.
The report also calls for additional research into the secondary outcomes of rapid rehousing, namely the impact on children’s school attendance and family stability, particularly if families are re-housed in areas that have housing vacancies due to poor neighborhood conditions such as failing schools and high levels of violence.
Although the report attempted to question the success of rapid re-housing due to the high vacancy rate and the need for additional research on secondary outcomes, the report documented what every other study of the MCBOSS’s rapid re-housing – it works.