Supportive Housing

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Supportive housing combines affordable housing with a variety of support and services, built for individuals with behavioral health needs or developmental disabilities. This housing model aims to address chronic homelessness, while enabling individuals to live independently and engage with the surrounding community, and has proven to be effective across the country, with innovations emerging from states in every region.

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Is Supportive Housing Permanent?

Supportive housing is meant to be permanent, by providing long-term housing with no designated limits on how long an individual or family can stay. Tenants hold leases and are responsible for a portion of the rent. However, this can often be confused with other types of housing models. For example, transitional housing provides temporary housing and services before an individual moves to a more permanent residence.

Supportive Housing

Key Challenges

The continued progress of this housing model faces a few main challenges.

NIMBYism

NIMBY, standing for “Not In My Backyard,” encompasses the phenomena of community opposition to the development of supportive housing in a particular area. NIMBYism stems from a range of misconceptions surrounding the effect that affordable housing has on the local community. This mentality often results from a mix of concerns around crime rates, property values, race, class, and neighborhood aesthetics.

Overcoming NIMBYism requires a multi-faceted, long-term approach. This includes education and awareness on the benefits of housing, engaging the local community as early as possible, and sharing the lived experiences of community advocates. HUD offers a NIMBY decision tree which provides a framework for advocates and agencies who are tackling these various factors. 

Funding

Supportive housing requires a mix of funding sources to establish or renovate a quality residence unit, operate the residence, and deliver services to tenants. Funding sources include Medicaid, government agencies, and private philanthropic organizations. However, these funding sources are competitive to obtain, shift with changes in policy and community support, and come with their own unique requirements. 

To help providers evaluate and secure funding, CSH published a guide to help providers understand and take advantage of their funding options.

Unequal Distribution of Housing

Providers of supportive housing are working to address unequal distribution of housing resources across gender identity, race, and need. Minority groups continue to represent a disproportionate number of unsheltered homeless. HUD published a CoC Race and Ethnicity Analysis Tool to help Continuum leaders identify and analyze racial disparities in people experiencing homelessness within their communities. 

This housing model was originally designed to address chronic homelessness. However, only 49% of beds were dedicated to those experiencing chronic homelessness in 2019. Naturally this raises the question of how providers should identify individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. To help providers identify these individuals and prioritize them for resources, HUD established its official definition for chronic homelessness in 2015. Providers also rely on their HMIS to capture a client’s current living situation and track a client’s entries/exits from the system.

Funding Supportive Housing through Medicaid

In this webinar, Sue Augustus, Senior Program Manager at CSH, Foothold Technology VP of Customer Success and Advocacy, Paul Rossi, and Foothold Senior Advisor, David Bucciferro, take a deeper dive into Medicaid and supportive housing. Learn from agencies that are using Medicaid and how to prepare your agency to manage Medicaid data.

We have decades of experience working with supportive housing providers and helping to integrate technology into their programs.