What Is Permanent Supportive Housing? 

 January 6, 2022

By  AHH Staff

Permanent supportive housing (PSH) is a growing need for homeless people. It has been studied and proven that this type of housing can benefit the homeless.

Permanent supportive housing is a form of subsidized housing. It provides long-term, affordable housing, and support services to people with disabilities or other special needs who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The permanent supportive shelter can help break the cycle of homelessness by providing stable, affordable homes for those in need.

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) programs provide permanent rental assistance and on-site social services to eligible households, including rehabilitation counseling, health care referrals, job training opportunities, and educational classes.

 With this kind of support service available at their fingertips every day, formerly homeless individuals are more likely to find employment and stay housed permanently

What Permanent Supportive Housing Is Not:

  • Transitional, meaning the people are expected to leave after a specific time. The homeless have lived this way for extended periods and may not function in other types of homes. This form of PSH has no end date or transition plan to another PSH unit or housing option.
  • Permanent supportive housing is not a shelter. A resident’s home remains theirs and they must continue paying rent, just as any other tenant would.

How Does Permanent Supportive Housing Work?

As of 2013, permanent supportive housing programs have reached approximately 100,000 people. In this program, tenants receive rental assistance and access to social services from a dedicated team that helps them address medical, psychiatric, or substance abuse problems.

In some programs, tenants may pay rent to the city first, and then the cash assistance is used to repay the city, with the tenant responsible for the remaining rent. Tenants are usually expected to contribute 30% of their income toward rent.

The most commonly used model is scattered-site housing, in which tenants live in private apartments throughout a community.

A newer model that has gained popularity is single room occupancy (SRO). Single rooms with shared kitchens and bathrooms are rented to individuals or couples who have access to a communal lounge and office to interact with other tenants.

Permanent Supportive Housing Application

Permanent supportive housing is where people with disabilities and veterans can receive help. The goal of permanent supportive housing is to help people live independently, become independent, and help them get jobs.

Permanent supportive housing is not designed for everyone and all needs. Applicants will be screened and assessed before being accepted into the program.

You must meet the following requirements for this program:

  • You must have a physical or mental illness that makes it difficult to work
  • You must have low income
  • Your health condition has caused you to go into poverty if you are not already in poverty.
  • You must be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless within 30 days.
  • You must be dealing with addiction issues.

You are recommended for this program if you have relatives or friends in the area that can help support you after you move into permanent supportive housing.

Applicants that are accepted will need to comply with expectations of being a good tenant in their new home. They will also have access to health care, treatment, and other services that they may need.

People accepted into the permanent supportive housing program will be asked to pay 30% of their monthly income.

If applicants can not afford to pay anything, they are also accepted, but they have to promise to find a way to pay for rent after 90 days.

Applicants can choose where they want to live and choose their roommates.

People who are accepted into this program will receive a voucher for rent, but applicants must make at least 50% of the median income in the area or below.

Recipients of permanent supportive housing vouchers have 18 months to find a home before losing their voucher.

What Is a CoC Voucher?

A Continuum of Care (COC) voucher is a permanent rental subsidy that assists low-income adults and families experiencing chronic homelessness to obtain and retain permanent housing and those receiving services from the Mental Health Division of DPH.

The CoC voucher program also provides supportive services such as case management, access to behavioral health and healthcare services, medication support, life skills training, and employment assistance.

CoC Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for CoC vouchers, individuals must be low-income adults with disabilities experiencing chronic homelessness.

  • Applicants must be homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless as defined by HUD’s CoCs. Individuals cannot have been convicted of certain crimes that exclude them from permanent housing.

 

  • Anyone found ineligible for CoC vouchers may still qualify for general VASH (Voucher Assisted Stable Housing) vouchers through the Department of Public Social Services.

Effectiveness of Permanent Supportive Housing

The permanent supportive housing model combines affordable housing with supportive services to help people live independently.

Permanent supportive housing may include the following services: case management, mental health or addiction counseling, life skills training, medical treatment, benefits advocacy, employment assistance, and other supportive services.

The goal is to assist formerly homeless individuals in transitioning into permanent housing and to help them access needed support services.

 Research demonstrates that permanent supportive housing effectively lowers the use of emergency services, such as hospital emergency departments and inpatient psychiatric facilities, and is effective in housing chronically homeless individuals. 

Homeless people living with severe mental illness, substance use disorders, or co-occurring challenges who receive permanent supportive housing do not need to stay in shelters or institutions.

In a study of the effectiveness of permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals with serious mental illness, researchers found that participants spent significantly less time in jail and had lower emergency department costs after they received housing.

A separate analysis from New York City showed significant decreases in hospitalization rates and lengths of stay among chronically homeless individuals who moved into supportive housing compared to those who did not.

Permanent supportive housing may be more cost-effective than other service models, such as shelters or transitional housing because it is a form of mainstream affordable housing that does not require ongoing public subsidy.

However, permanent supportive housing requires ongoing support services. Funding for these services must remain stable over time if the savings from reduced reliance on community-based services are sustained.

Permanent Supportive Housing Problems/Challenges

The implementation of permanent supportive housing has been thoroughly studied, and many different problems have arisen. The biggest problem is funding for the accommodation itself.

This problem forces agencies to reduce staff or cut other services in permanent supportive housing.

Another issue is that there are not enough apartments available for PSH. Some apartments are not affordable for some clients who also receive government assistance on their income. This is evident with the waiting list at many apartment buildings that can be up to seven years long.

Another problem is ensuring the quality of life for residents of permanent supportive housing units. Individuals in some departments have reported feeling unsafe because of a lack of security. Inevitably, some recipients use drugs or alcohol, which leads to complaints from neighbors and puts the client’s housing at risk.

The biggest concern with permanent supportive housing is community opposition to this program.

Community members often oppose because they believe it attracts a bad element into their neighborhood. This often leads to the program not expanding because of community opposition.

Frequently Asked Questions About Permanent Supportive Housing

What Is the Difference Between Rapid Rehousing and Permanent Supportive Housing?

With permanent supportive housing, the individual is provided with their private residence and access to on-site support services. These services are customized to each client’s specific needs and can include assistance in employment, education, life skills development, recreation, counseling, and others.

In contrast, rapid rehousing provides a short amount of rental assistance (typically between 6 and 12 months) in a private market setting without ongoing support. This is often used when an individual or family is experiencing homelessness for the first time, has been homeless only briefly, or has experienced a recent return to homelessness after leaving a previous housing situation.

Who Verifies Eligibility for the Units?

The local Public Housing Authority (PHA) verified eligibility for permanent supportive housing.

The PHA will decide an individual’s eligibility based on the income limits established by HUD.

Is It Safe To Live In Permanent Supportive Housing?

PSH is a safe and affordable option for permanent housing. It does not disrupt social networks and can help ensure better outcomes than other transitional or emergency housing forms, such as emergency shelters or transitional living programs.

Conclusion

Permanent supportive housing can be a very beneficial resource for people who need assistance finding places to live. It can be challenging for people without homes to find housing on their own, and permanent supportive housing is an excellent way to get that assistance.

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) includes rental assistance vouchers and managing the scattered-site or congregate housing with on-site services, so people experiencing homelessness can move from the streets or emergency shelter into safe, affordable housing.

 

Sources:

https://endhomelessness.org/ending-homelessness/solutions/permanent-supportive-housing/

https://nhchc.org/clinical-practice/homeless-services/permanent-supportive-housing/

https://ldh.la.gov/page/1732

https://www.hudexchange.info/homelessness-assistance/coc-esg-virtual-binders/coc-program-components/permanent-housing/permanent-supportive-housing/

About the author 

AHH Staff

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