“This gathering marked the association’s 20th anniversary, an opportunity to reflect on two decades of work to make permanent supportive housing — i.e., lease-based housing paired with voluntary, flexible services — a primary intervention for people with a wide range of disabilities and for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Many other states, too, have invested time and resources in the successful expansion of this approach for their homeless and disabled populations.”
Kevin reminded us that even though The New York Times had recently written about negative stories about how supportive housing hadn’t worked for people with serious mental illness, “Strong evidence nevertheless suggests that people with serious mental illness can succeed in PSH, and that use of the model should indeed be expanded. But there are considerations that must be addressed to ensure that PSH meets the needs of the people it is intended to serve.”
But we do know that many people living with serious mental illness have stabilized and rebuild their lives living in supportive housing.
“There is plenty of evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of PSH for people with mental illness and for people transitioning from homelessness. Many PSH programs have shown increased housing stability, decreased emergency department and inpatient use, reduced jail days, and significant cost savings compared to homelessness, inpatient care, and other institutional or supervised settings.”
And available services are key in supportive housing. “In order for PSH to be successful, particularly for persons with complex needs, services must be voluntary, flexible, responsive, robust, and comprehensive. Furthermore, they must be delivered by well-trained staff who are able to provide the right types of services, in the right locations (i.e., where people live), and at the right times, adapting what is offered to meet individuals’ evolving needs. Providers that struggle to adequately support people in PSH are often those with inadequate staffing, which makes them unable to respond quickly and appropriately.”
Kevin writes about all of the reasons that supportive housing is a much better alternative to the days when those with serious mental illness were institutionalized.
“Systems should move forward on bringing well-designed, fully funded permanent supportive housing to scale, so that all who can benefit from living in safe, independent, community-integrated housing have the opportunity to do so.”