Adding to the base of permanent supportive housing in our community is one of the purposes of TCHC. We work with the public housing authorities, cities, and our agencies to fund, see to fruition, and support permanent housing for our clients. According to best practices, housing is strengthened by supportive services, like those our agencies provide. The Corporation for Supportive Housing describes this type of housing as “permanent, affordable housing combined with a range of supportive services that help people with special needs live stable and independent lives.”
Housing FirsT Model
Our Continuum, like those across the nation, subscribes to the Housing First Model. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “Housing First is an approach that centers on providing homeless people with housing quickly and then providing services as needed.” Housing First programs:
- Focus on helping individuals and families access and retain non-temporary housing as quickly as possible
- Follow housing placement with services to promote housing stablity and individual well-being as long as needed
- Do not making housing contigent on participation in services, but on a written lease agreement
This model houses the chronic homeless without waiting for them to overcome their barriers, addicitions, unemployment, etc. Studies, such as the Chicago Study for Health Partnership, show that housing the homeless not only improves their lives quickly, but saves the community money.
For more information, see What is Housing First?
What about people who have just encountered homelessness for the first time? On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 including $1.5 billion for a Homelessness Prevention Fund. This program is called the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). Since its inception in September 2009, Tarrant County agencies have helped hundreds of households.
The Rapid Re-Housing funds provide housing placement services, short-term housing assistance, and supportive services. Consistent with Housing First, Rapid Re-Housing “help families experiencing homelessness locate housing the community, negotiate with landlords, and provide home-based case management to promote housing retention and link families with needed services within their new community” ( http://www.endhomelessness.org/files/2032_file_Rapid_Rehousing_final.pdf).
The Corporation of Supportive Housing lists three types of permanent supportive housing:
- Scattered-site model: individual PSH apartments that are rented, usually from private landlords
- Single-site model: dedicated buildings for 100% permanent supportive housing units
- Integrated housing model: PSH units set aside in multifamily complexes, often with other affordable housing units
“Specialized” housing stigmatizes the homeless and its subpopulations. Integrated housing is an alternative that encourages people to be housed in communities, rather than “former-homeless-only” living situations. A study of a Pathways to Housing program in New York found that those independently housed within the community stayed in housing four times longer than those in group homes. “Living in apartments of their own with assistance from a supportive and available clinical staff teaches them the skills and provides them with the necessary support to continue to live successfully in the community” ( http://www.bazelon.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=4sZjOa313oI%3D&tabid=245).
Permanent supportive housing projects, however, are susceptible to neighbors’ NIMBYism: “Not In My Backyard.” According to HUD, NIMBYism is “a mentality adopted by those who reject certain changes to their communities. Although many types of development can provoke NIMBY attitudes, supportive housing for persons who are homeless frequently arouses such opposition. Often fears of increased crime, decreased property values, and other negative impacts on the community underlie objections to developing supportive housing.”
HUD’s website provides information for agencies working against NIMBYism including identifying attitudes, diffusing sentiment, responding to impediments, and a questionnaire leading to similar case studies: