Now an increasingly recognized best practice, permanent supportive housing - also known as Housing First - continues to represent a paradigm shift in addressing the costly social problem of chronic homelessness. Permanent supportive housing is targeted to people who suffer from complex medical, mental and addiction disabilities that are virtually impossible to manage in the unstable setting of homelessness. Housing provides these individuals with stability, which allows them to address the complex issues and disabilities that affect them.
Permanent supportive housing tenants live in leased, independent apartments or shared living arrangements that are integrated into the community. Tenants have access to a broad range of comprehensive community-based services, including medical and mental health care, substance abuse treatment, case management, vocational training and life skills training. The use of these services, however, is not a condition of ongoing tenancy. Housing First represents a shift toward “low-threshold” housing, which is focused on the development of formerly homeless persons as “good tenants” as opposed to “good clients.” The low-threshold housing model recognizes that a person’s disabilities may limit them from entering the traditional, linear service delivery system, which often entails complex clinical-based service plans, compliance-based housing placements and the acknowledgment on the part of the tenant to accept certain labels and diagnoses. By removing the barriers to housing, individuals are given an opportunity to deal with the complex health and life issues they face as tenants, rather than as clients of a prescribed system of care.
For more information about permanent supportive housing, visit the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Solutions Database.