Housing First for Homeless works in Rural States

This news update from KnowledgePlex is a reminder that Housing First and work in all areas of New Jersey.

A new report indicates that the Housing First approach being used effectively to reduce homeless populations in big cities also succeeds in a rural state such as Maine, according to an editorial in the Portland Press Herald. The report, by Maine State Housing, compared the cost of services used by 99 people during a year on the street with the costs of services used in their first year in permanent supportive housing. The study found that the costs fell by one half. “The people in the study actually received more mental health and medical care than they got before, but at a cost that was 40 percent less because of the way it was delivered,” the article said. Still, although there are permanent supportive housing programs in Portland and elsewhere, community fears have stymied plans to create enough units to fill the need. 

Officials in Chattanooga, Tenn., are standing by their plan for permanent supportive housing despite a recent HUD report questioning the approach’s effectiveness, reported the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The HUD report found that 80 percent of people participating in Housing First programs were still in housing after one year but that 41 percent returned to the streets at some point. The Chattanooga Housing Authority and the mayor’s office are planning to use nearly $645,000 in HUD funds to provide housing and social services to at least 25 chronically homeless people. A Chattanooga Housing Authority official said that HUD needs to track Housing First clients for a longer time to gain a better picture of the program’s effectiveness. 

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Palmer DePaulis is heading up Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.’s 10-year plan to end homelessness by shifting away from emergency shelters to permanent supportive housing, reported The Salt Lake Tribune. With a $50 million investment, four supportive housing facilities comprising 400 units are under way in Salt Lake County. Although tenants don’t have to be sober or working, they “must abide only by society’s rules,” the article said. They have access to on-site counselors for job counseling, addiction treatment, and other services, under the notion that being stably housed better positions them to improve their circumstances. Community opposition has not stalled the largest of the four facilities due to its location in a commercial redevelopment zone in Salt Lake City.

The Solution to Homelessness May Just be Housing
10/06/2007 | Portland Press Herald (Maine)
HUD Officials Say Housing First Program Needs More Monitoring
10/04/2007 | Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)
‘Palmer Court’ Aims to Solve Homelessness
10/03/2007 | The Salt Lake Tribune