In 2001, Hilliard House (now Housing Families First) established a 30-bed facility in eastern Henrico County for women who have children up to the age of 18. The service area was the City of Richmond and Henrico County. It was the first facility of its kind in the area.
For eleven years, Hilliard House provided transitional housing. Some families stayed for as long as a year in the shelter. They benefited from services that equipped them to rebuild their lives. The program consistently exceeded the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) goals. Each year, 80 percent or more of the families were placed in permanent housing; the national standard established by HUD was 63.5 percent.
In January 2012, Hilliard House launched Building Neighbors. This program places families in permanent housing as quickly as possible. It shortens or eliminates shelter stays. Family Housing Case Managers work with families to establish goals for housing – and for life. They link families to community resources needed for long-term success.
In November 2014, Hilliard House became Housing Families First. Within the organization are two signature programs. One is Building Neighbors, the rapid re-housing program. The other is Hilliard House, the onsite shelter that was the original core program to house homeless women and their children. The shelter continues to provide safety and support for families when barriers to rapid re-housing are high and need families need more time to be ready for a permanent home.
For its effective rapid re-housing work, Hilliard House recently was honored as the Agency of the Year by the Virginia Association of Housing Counselors.