Thursday, November 12, 2009

Permanent Supportive Housing 101 (Part 2)

National research and on-the-ground experience indicates that providing homeless persons with a permanent place in which to live with optional, supportive services available on location is by far the most effective intervention available. 

Go figure. 

The solution to homelessness?  

Ladies and gentlemen, we have it!

A place to call home. 

So simple it seems ridiculous, huh? 

So, what is permanent supportive housing (PSH)?

3.  Who lives in supportive housing?  Pretty much anyone who needs housing due to their homelessness.  People with mental illness, addictions, senior citizens, families with children, youth who "age out" of the foster care system, people with HIV/AIDS, the chronically homeless, the disabled--the list is almost as diverse as the full range of the human experience.

4.  What sort of services are available with PSH?  Almost whatever a tenant needs, requests or will utilize.  At Central Dallas Ministries we speak of our supportive housing service delivery team as our "Concierge Staff."  The list of services if almost endless and includes mental and physical health services, transportation, life skills, counseling, community interaction, legal services, entertainment, connection to churches, opera tickets!  A key factor in providing services is that the tenant must request them. 

5.  Is PSH more costly than allowing people to remain homeless?  No.  PSH reduces the use of some of a typical community's most expensive human services.  Included in the "services avoided" list are hospital emergency room visits, hospitalizations, psychiatric services, police and fire department, emergency medical response teams, countless non-profit programs and interventions. 

During the first year of CDM's PSH initiative we conducted a totally unscientific survey of just 7 of our tenants.  We asked each how many times they had been hospitalized in the year prior to entering our housing and how many times they had been in the hospital during the year since entering our program.  The results were stunning:  17 visits in the year prior to getting an apartment and just 2 vists during the first year in housing. 

Experts report that at the very worst the economic impact of providing and operating PSH compared to the costs associated with leaving people on the streets is a wash.  Most studies report a net cost savings when a community provides housing for its homeless population.

1 comment:

Cody said...

There's a man who works in the Human Services community in Denver with me. He says, "The solution to homelessness is simple: give everyone a home."

PSH actually makes this seem reasonable. What I like about CityWalk is that it is not segregation.