We can stop homelessness before it happens. Effective prevention strategies use the latest research to target emergency financial assistance, housing stabilization services, and legal services to the people most likely to experience homelessness.
All Home is advancing a regional prevention strategy to keep people in their homes, reduce the number of people being pushed into homelessness across our region, and redress racial disparities in who becomes homeless.
The Need for a Regional Strategy
Across the Bay Area,at least three people are becoming homeless for every one that is housed. The Bay Area’s undersupply of housing, along with extreme income inequality, low-paying jobs that don’t cover high housing costs, and a fraying social safety net, are forcing people into homelessness. As long as more people are being pushed into homelessness than housed, the problem will get worse. This is why preventing homelessness—balancing the equation of entries and exits—is critical to ending it.
When All Home started, there was no regionally accepted definition of what homelessness prevention really meant. There were, however, promising examples from the field using research to target prevention services based on actual risk of homelessness.
- Santa Clara County: Destination: Home launched its Homelessness Prevention System (HPS) in 2017. Since the pilot phase, the HPS has served over 5,400 households, with a 97% housing retention rate after one year and a 94% housing retention rate after two years.
- City of Oakland: Bay Area Community Services (BACS) launched Keep People Housed—Oakland (KPH) in 2018. Since the pilot phase, KPH has served more than 7,700 households, with a 92% housing retention rate from 2018-2021 and a 93% housing retention rate from 2021-2023.
Most cities and counties—to the extent that they were funding homelessness prevention at all—were not targeting their limited resources efficiently. Many programs still serve clients on a first-come, first-served basis, rather than targeting emergency financial assistance and other prevention services to those most at risk of ending up on the street. We know the region can do better and are working with county and nonprofit partners to implement a more strategic approach.
All Home’s Regional Homelessness Prevention System
All Home’s Regional Action Plan—the RAP—provides a roadmap for reducing unsheltered homelessness by 75 percent across the region. To get there, we need to invest simultaneously in pathways to permanent housing, as well as preventing homelessness in the first place.
In 2021, All Home launched COVID-19 emergency rental assistance pilots in three Bay Area cities: Fremont, Oakland, and San Francisco. With our partners at Bay Area Community Services (BACS), we developed an online platform—with a unique portal for each city—where households could apply for help in several languages. Our platform uses a research-based assessment tool to prioritize applications based on the applicants’ risks of actually experiencing homelessness, with integrated verification processes to facilitate immediate service delivery to high-risk households.
We are currently expanding these pilot programs into a first-of-its-kind, regionally coordinated homelessness prevention system with programs in three counties (and counting). Our program model pairs rapid, flexible financial assistance with housing stabilization services and legal services for households facing eviction. We are also piloting employment services for jobseekers.
Prevention Resources, All in One Place
Stay Housed Bay Area is a new digital platform that helps Bay Area residents find the resources and services they need to stay in their homes. By answering simple screening questions, people can find practical resources, including rental assistance and legal services near them, with no registration required. Stay Housed Bay Area’s resources are carefully curated, up-to-date, and available in both English and Spanish.
Until now, these resources were often hard for people to find—and siloed by city or county when they are available at all. Stay Housed Bay Area makes it easy for anyone in the Bay Area to find available resources near them. The site also makes it possible to do regional outreach about these resources for the first time.
Stay Housed Bay Area is a collaboration between All Home and One Degree, a tech-for-good nonprofit that bridges the gap between low-income communities and vital social services.
The Road Ahead
Our model strives for better household outcomes—preventing the trauma and disruption of homelessness for people and families—and better system outcomes too. The more we can fund our model at scale, the more clearly we will start to see system impacts: reduced numbers of people experiencing or returning to homelessness, and less demand for shelters and interim housing that don’t have the capacity to meet current needs.
All Home is in the process of engaging an academic research partner to evaluate our regional system operations so we can learn from and share our results. We know that strong prevention programs—scaled to meet community needs—are absolutely critical to reduce homelessness regionally, statewide, and nationally.