What Is Supportive Housing?
Supportive housing is just that: Housing plus support. Tenants have affordable apartments and easy access to whatever help they need to stay housed and healthy. They pay one-third of their income toward rent and get both a roof over their heads and on-site access to a support network of professionals to help them overcome the challenges that left them homeless.
Since its inception in the 1980s, supportive housing has become one of the most effective (and cost-effective) interventions ever devised to end homelessness among the most vulnerable: individuals and families coping with mental illness, trauma/abuse, addiction and chronic illness including HIV/AIDS.
Supportive housing residences are owned and operated by nonprofit organizations. The apartments they offer are high-quality and attractive, designed to enhance both tenant self-esteem and neighborhoods. Caring staff provide the type of support the rest of us get from friends and family: help with managing illnesses, getting an education, a job, a doctor’s appointment and a day-to-day routine.
Supportive housing is a common-sense solution to a seemingly intractable social problem. Though it was conceived as an intervention for homeless people living with mental illness, supportive housing now transforms the lives of homeless veterans, high-risk families, youth aging out of foster care and even grandparents raising grandchildren.
There are currently 45,000 units of supportive housing in New York, and that number continues to grow.