In recent years, permanent supportive housing managed by both public housing authorities and independent nonprofits has been the single most effective mechanism for cities to help a growing population of individuals who are chronically homeless. To be considered chronically homeless under the federal definition, an individual must be continuously homeless and living in a shelter or an area not suited for habitation for one year or longer. The service needs of these individuals are somewhat different from those of the general population of individuals who are temporarily homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Being able to provide onsite services to chronically homeless individuals who have just obtained housing creates a higher success rate for this model of housing and has enabled a stronger continuity of care for individuals with intensive needs.
The Success of Housing First
Permanent supportive housing providers have demonstrated the unequivocal success of the Housing First model, which acknowledges that a lack of housing what frequently prevents homeless persons from getting critical care for conditions that have largely contributed to their being homeless. Without stable housing, it’s virtually impossible for people to attain regular medical care for disabling conditions, mental health disorders. Moreover, living in homelessness presents a nearly insurmountable obstacle to recovering from a substance use disorder.
The Role of Onsite Service Providers
Individuals who are pursuing a social work career can expect to find a growing availability of opportunities in the field of supportive housing. People who are considering a career as a counselor may be drawn to this job role over others because it enables them to provide case management services only to clients who want help and don’t deny that they need help. Serving clients who have been formerly homeless requires counselors to have developed social work career skills. Working in a residential setting does not necessarily require that a person live in a residence. Instead onsite service providers keep regular office hours, but they may have to be available to respond to emergencies as needed.
Withstanding Challenges to Vital Programs
HUD funding for Continuum of Care city-based grants has come under recent scrutiny due to the fact that competent administrators have not been appointed under the current leadership. However, even the staunchest critics of subsidized housing for homeless individuals cannot negate the cost-saving impact of this important resource. Permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals consistently creates sharp declines in the overutilization of emergency services such as ER care or police responses. Fortunately, November’s election will likely end the of unratified appointments based on an individual’s willingness to pledge blind loyalty to a single person in power rather than their skills and qualifications. Diversion of funds to community services could generate a sharp increase in the development of additional housing resources and counseling.
Ultimately, permanent supportive housing that follows the Housing First model is providing some of the most basic human needs to individuals who would otherwise be completely barred from accessing them. Continuity in care that enables chronically homeless persons who are newly housed to stay engaged with their providers and manage their conditions can create consistently positive outcomes.