Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Housing that aims to be permanent

Not everyone understands the intent of "permanent supportive housing" (PSH).  That's understandable since most housing intervention strategies for homeless persons involve some sort of "transition" plan that includes teaching people how to be housed again, requiring that they maintain absolute sobriety in order to remain housed and/or setting a time limit on just how long they may remain in the program before moving on to housing on their own.  The intent with transitional housing is to prepare and qualify people for permanent housing. 

In PSH programs the pressure and fear of an approaching, somewhat arbitrary deadline is removed so that  the tenant relaxes into an opportunity that removes this pressure.  Once housed, a tenant in a PSH program is free to go to work on improving her life.  In the most successful PSH projects, requirements for entry into housing remain minimal.  In many cases, depending on the funding sources, requirements boil down to simply being a good neighbor and keeping one's problems and potentially disruptive issues inside one's apartment, rather than bringing such problems into the common areas of the larger community, you know, just like how you live at your place!

Of course, one of the key ingredients in successful PSH programs is the presence of consistent support services that are continually available to residents.  The best supportive housing efforts involve offering residents lots of options designed to help residents realize the goals that they set for themselves.  PSH surrounds tenants with positive, health-giving options that they are free to choose or reject. 

In those PSH programs that also employ "housing first" methods, tenants are welcomed into housing from the beginning.  Once housed, persons find themselves in a setting where they can go to work on life problems and negative issues.  But, housing is removed as a concern.  In the freedom of being housed, most persons experience recovery and stability more quickly and with more sustainability than in more traditional housing programs. 

Housing first approaches also employ supportive services to be freely chosen or rejected by tenants.  Housing providers across the nation are discovering that when formerly homeless persons are given freedom to choose their own way toward better lives, the outcomes/results are better and longer lasting.  Giving tenants choices and options in the vast majority of cases leads to better, stronger communities and more effective personal results.

Permanent supportive housing offers homeless persons and their communities the best options for success in ending homelessness in our nation and its urban centers. 

For more information take a look at the Corporation for Supportive Housing at www.csh.org and watch the video below:

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