VOCAL-TX Launches Campaign to Fix Austin’s Rapid Rehousing Program, Invest in Housing the Poor

CONTACT: Paulette Soltani, paulette@vocal-tx.org 


Find Campaign Policy Brief and Firsthand Accounts of the Rapid Rehousing Program Here

View Pictures From Today’s Rally Here

AUSTIN, Texas — Today, VOCAL-TX unveiled a new campaign, Stop the Clock: Fix Austin’s Rapid Rehousing Program and Invest in Housing for the Poor. Among the recommendations released in a campaign policy brief, VOCAL-TX calls on the City to ensure rapid rehousing (RRH) financial assistance lasts 24 months if needed, or until permanent housing is secured.

Throughout March, VOCAL-TX leaders – people who are unhoused or formerly unhoused – surveyed unhoused Austinites about their experiences with RRH. Across the board people reported that RRH is too short and access to permanent housing when RRH ends is too scarce. Many shared stories of how they ended up back on the streets, living out of their cars, and temporarily staying with family members. Today, recipients of RRH shared their stories and called on the city to fix RRH and ensure no one is exited to homelessness.

“My experience was going from the inferno of living on the streets, to what I thought would be paradise of having my own place to live with rapid rehousing,” said Vernon Jarmon, a VOCAL-TX Leader and former Rapid Rehousing recipient. “I thought I was getting a permanent home with no issues, but I almost ended up on the streets again. No one should end up back on the streets if they have RRH. Too many programs aren’t working, and we need these programs to work.”

“There was no way I could save so much of my income per month. I was trying to pay back credit cards and some of my money had been stolen. I wasn’t close to service or food lines to get free food everyday. I don’t know anyone who could live on $400 a month. Because I didn’t cooperate with the rules, I was kicked out of the program,” said Laura Ann Martinez, a member of VOCAL-TX and former Rapid Rehousing recipient.

“I don’t know how people are supposed to do this. Time goes by so fast. People have so much going on in their lives and people need time. But every night I think about what’s going to happen when my rapid rehousing runs out in August. And I know it’s not just me. If I end up back on the streets, what is going to happen to me?” said Maria Cepeda, a VOCAL-TX Leader and current Rapid Rehousing recipient.


While Rapid Rehousing (RRH) is one of the City’s vital interventions to address homelessness, advocates say the program’s assistance is too brief, and would be dramatically more successful if more affordable and supportive housing were available for people exiting the program. Once enrolled, people wait for months to be housed, but the program is temporary, resulting in many housed individuals being forced back to the streets and to shelters often after only six months to one year.

There have been important news stories and reports covering RRH out of other cities with high rents. Dallas Observer and NPR published stories that portray struggles of RRH recipients finding permanent housing before their RRH ends in Dallas and Los Angeles. In 2017, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless published the report, Set Up To Fail: Rapid Rehousing in the District of Columbia, which discussed challenges with the program and called into question discrepancies in the data. D.C. has since passed policy reforms through the City Council to improve their rapid rehousing programs, though advocates have continued to call for further reforms to the program. In 2022, 50 organizations signed a letter urging the Mayor to end arbitrary time limits of RRH assistance.