Rutgers Social Work Professors Share Materials to Help Formerly Homeless Individuals Succeed in the Transition to Mainstream Affordable Housing
Moving On initiatives help individuals and families who are willing and able to move out of permanent supportive housing transition into mainstream apartments without the embedded supports.
These initiatives use mainstream housing assistance such as Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers or other types of affordable housing that are not attached to support services. Permanent supportive housing consists of affordable housing with wrap around, embedded support services. The services provided through supportive housing can help individuals with mental illness, substance abuse disorders and chronic physical illness remain in housing and successfully stabilize and rebuild their lives.
What happens with tenants living in supportive housing no longer need the supportive services but may still be in need of an apartment they can afford? And how can that supportive housing apartment be opened up to a vulnerable household that is in need of the affordable housing combined with support services?
The idea is that permanent supportive housing can be used for a household needing more intensive wrap around support services and then when they are ready to “move on” then that supportive housing “apartment” can be recycled for another household.
For any of us, moving from one house or apartment to another can be a stressful time. And the transition from supportive housing and other forms of homeless services to more mainstream affordable housing without support services is a critical transition period for individuals with histories of homelessness, criminal justice involvement, mental illness, substance abuse, and other prior barriers to housing stability.
To ensure successful transitions for these populations, Rutgers School of Social Work professors and researchers developed the Moving On from Supportive Housing (MOSH) skill-building curriculum. Dr. Emmy Tiderington, Dr. Allison Zippay, and several collaborators developed and piloted the MOSH curriculum under a grant from the New Jersey Department of Community affairs (DCA). MOSH provides supervisors and frontline case managers with the skills needed to assist formerly homeless supportive housing residents with the transition from supportive housing to housing without attached case management support.
According to Dr. Tiderington, the lead on the MOSH project, “Research has shown that some recipients of PSH want the opportunity to move on from PSH, they just don’t have access to non-PSH affordable housing. Now that Moving On initiatives have created these opportunities, we have growing evidence that some portion of PSH recipients are able to successfully step away from services over time despite the common assumption that those in PSH need embedded services for life. But this means that providers need to be ready to support people in new ways. This includes helping people build and repair credit, put together acceptable apartment applications, find mainstream affordable units, and other more transitional case management skills. This curriculum is designed to fill that gap.”
Informed by the Stages of Change model and the evidence-based practices of Critical Time Intervention and Motivational Interviewing, this curriculum includes transitional skills training on:
1) Resolving barriers to mainstream tenancy,
2) Post-PSH housing navigation,
3) Enhancing tenancy skills,
4) Financial capabilities, and
5) Linking to post-PSH formal and informal supports.
The Moving On from Supportive Housing (MOSH) skill-building curriculum is available here.
In the most recent Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA), the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), incentivized local Continuums of Care (CoC) to include a Moving On Strategy in their applications. This means that access for PSH tenants to moving on opportunities and mainstream affordable housing will likely increase over time.
Ideally, providers would begin talking to new supportive housing tenants about their goals for and the possibility of Moving On to a more mainstream affordable housing apartment when they first move into supportive housing. Providers can then work with tenants using these skills to address barriers to mainstream tenancy over time so that tenants are ready to move on when and if they receive a mainstream voucher and want to leave PSH.
The license for this curriculum is free to non-profit users. Rutgers University only requires that users register in the system before it provides the materials for download.