Southeastern PA

Bucks County rehousing program alleviates homeless population

Quakertown's Amy Gabler takes out a chicken from her kitchen's oven to prepare dinner. This simple task was impossible just a few months ago.

"It was horrible. My son was displaced, we have two cats," she said.

The-45-year-old working mom was homeless and living in her jeep when she contacted Bucks County's Rapid Rehousing Program.

"They help you get into a place with first and last month's security depending on your needs," Gabler said.

Unlike transitional housing, Rapid Rehousing works with private landlords and puts the lease in the client's name.

"The point of putting the lease in their name is that it's permanent housing for the client," Erin Lukoss of the Bucks County Opportunity Council said.

Lukoss says the program, which started in 2009, acts as a safety net. Through the program, the Opportunity Council has helped nearly 300 people and still has a 90-person waiting list for their 30 spots.

Aside from funds, college and job skills classes are offered and coaches help budget money.

The Rapid Rehousing Program is having rapid success. It's cut the county's homelessness population by 22 percent in the past year.

"While the program isn't new we have put a renewed emphasis on it," said John Rubin.

Rubin, who runs the county's Housing and Human Services, says the program currently has 107 people in it.

He says success is about a long term solution and clients have help with everything from physical and mental health to employment and child care.

Gabler, who still spends 60 percent of her income on rent, has been selling items off eBay for extra funds.

She has this advice for those living on the housing brink:

"As humbling as it is, let your needs be known, you never know who is listening and who can help."


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