Housing First model improves overall well-being, study finds
A nonprofit organization that provides permanent supportive housing to low-income, physically or mentally disabled families, and long-term homeless families in Kent County has released a study that shows its programs improve the well-being of families. consumers over time.
Grand Rapids Community Rebuilders hired public sector consultants to conduct a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Assessment Report, prepared this spring, which evaluated a sample of 47 Kent County households that were served by Community Rebuilders’ PSH programs.
Since funding for the full assessment was provided by a grant from Spectrum Health Healthier Communities, most of the households included in the sample size – 35 – were located in the targeted neighborhoods of Spectrum Health Healthyier Communities (see graph), which are 17 census tracts of income on the west and southeast sides of Grand Rapids.
Heads of household in the 47 families included in the assessment were disproportionately black or African-American, predominantly female, and generally middle-aged. The households studied are all current clients of Community Rebuilders and have remained housed since entering the program – from 21 days to almost 21 years, with an average duration of over three years.
The study showed that since access to services, the households served not only obtained stable, safe and affordable housing, but also experienced an increase in their income (35%); better health (53% improved their physical health and 28% their mental health) and better access to health care (51%); increased access to food (51%) and transport (50%); and greater general well-being and greater customer satisfaction.
Anna Diaz, vice president of Community Rebuilders, said the PSH programs her organization offers – which include Housing Solutions, Heroes, LOFT and Shelter Plus Care and offer long-term rental assistance and other support services – are designed to make roaming rare. , brief and non-recurring.
Community Rebuilders takes a “Housing First” approach, in which participants do not need to address other issues or complete treatment before being housed. This compares to a “housing readiness” model used by some non-profit organizations that require people to learn certain skills or meet certain benchmarks before moving into housing. The Housing First approach prioritizes providing permanent housing to homeless people, to give them a stable platform from which they can pursue their personal goals and improve their quality of life. life.
Diaz said that Community Rebuilders’ approach of finding housing for clients first, and then working with them through case management to resolve their other issues, makes a lot of sense, as the organization aims nonprofit works with the county’s most vulnerable populations who cannot access things like insulin. for their diabetes, unless they have a refrigerator to store it or social security income / social security disability income if they do not have an address the government can send checks to and other communications.
Community Rebuilders’ PSH programs are funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which has established criteria for safe, decent, and hygienic housing, as well as a housing affordability standard that states that consumers do not pay more than 30% of their income on housing so that they can also pay their other bills. Community Rebuilders then pays the difference using the HUD funds.
The gross monthly rent for housing units rented by families in the evaluation population for the study ranged from $ 623 to $ 1,462 with a median of $ 817. With rent subsidies, the tenant portion of the rent ranged from $ 0 to $ 448 per month with a median of $ 88 per month. In comparison, the average median monthly rent in the 17 census tracts included in the NOF zone is $ 920. In Grand Rapids the median monthly rent is $ 925 and in Kent County the median rent is $ 899 per month.
Diaz said there is a pervasive misconception that homeless people do not want housing or are not ready for housing, when in fact, it is often just the opposite. Community Rebuilders provides consumers with a choice of housing, helping them find housing where they want to live – maybe it’s somewhere close to their existing social support networks or somewhere far from the neighborhoods they have trouble with – and customers are eager to accept it.
“What we have learned through our work is that when you offer a choice of housing and help consumers understand that they are the experts in their lives, and we are there to support them, to many consumers, this is the first time they have ever had this opportunity and are very happy to be able to start finding accommodation on their own, ”she said. “We offer case management services to help them navigate the housing market, discussing your housing needs and preferences?” Where do you want to live? Is there a place you want to get away from? (Help them) understand that we have federal program funds, so housing has to be under fair market rents, and what does that affordability look like to them? And that’s just the start of this case management service.
She said the PSH model takes a strengths-based approach that honors consumers and empowers them, and she thinks this report proves that it’s also effective. If the head of the family continues to reach the income and disability thresholds that prevent him from keeping his home alone, he can continue in the PSH program indefinitely.
Community Rebuilders shared the report with Spectrum Health Healthier Communities, as well as its email subscribers, and Diaz said she hopes the study will put the PSH model at the forefront of people’s minds so that they see that there are solutions that have the potential to end homelessness permanently in Kent County.
In the last published one-time tally (2020), Kent County reported 185 chronically homeless, of which 44 were not sheltered and 141 were sheltered. Thirty of them were chronically homeless housed in households with a minor child, 111 were chronically homeless housed in a household without children and 43 were chronically homeless without children.
“We believe it can be done, and we believe that having programs designed like what you see here in this report can help end homelessness in Kent County,” Diaz said.
“We believe this is the recipe for success, but we cannot do it alone. Being able to share data and share information with the whole community only brings more attention to this critical need for homelessness. Any way we can have this as a conversation starter or help with additional funding for the cause is essential. “
For more information on Community Rebuilders, visit communityrebuilders.org. The full report is available on bit.ly/PSHreport, and a summary is available at bit.ly/PSHreportsummary.