Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children. Section 3: Housing Resources for Permanent Housing for Parents Who Have Become Homeless and Their Children: Permanent Supportive Housing


In Exhibit 2 a very rough estimate was presented that there were 22,000 families with children who need to leave homelessness for permanent supportive housing at a point in time in 1996. This may be an overestimate of the number of permanent supportive housing units needed for families, as it may underestimate the ability of parents to live in mainstream permanent housing despite having experienced multiple or lengthy episodes of homelessness or having the type of disability that qualifies for SSI.

The vehicles for subsidizing permanent supportive housing that are the most well-known are the HUD McKinney-Vento grant programs: Shelter Plus Care and the Supportive Housing Program (SHP). As of the end of 2003, program grantees reported to HUD that there were 7,355 families living in permanent supportive housing subsidized by these two programs.17 About half of these families, 3,710, were receiving tenant-based rental assistance funded by the Shelter Plus Care program. Assuming there are some vacancies associated with unit turnover and new units of subsidy just coming on line, there may be as many as 8,000 units of permanent supportive housing for families supported by the HUD McKinney-Vento programs.

Some cities and states use the HOME rental production option for permanent supportive housing. Data on HOME rental production as of 2000 showed that 5 percent of all units were in single room occupancy developments or group homes (Herbert et al., 2001). Because of the type of housing, these are likely to be for individuals with special needs rather than for families. It is not known whether there are any HOME rental developments that provide permanent supportive housing for families with children. The HOME tenant-based rental option, on the other hand, includes a substantial fraction of units with two or more bedrooms, and it is possible that some of them are used for permanent supportive housing for families.

Some states use LIHTC for permanent supportive housing, but there is no estimate of how many of such units there are in total or of how many have two or more bedrooms or are explicitly targeted to families. Another source of funds sometimes used for permanent supportive housing is housing trust funds based on dedicated sources of state revenue. Again, there is no estimate of the number of additional permanent supportive housing units that are created in this way.

HUD’s housing assistance production programs for people with disabilities, Section 811 and the older Section 202 program for people with disabilities, have only a tiny number of units with two or more bedrooms,18 and it is likely that these units serve individuals living as roommates or with caregivers rather than families.

With little information at the present on permanent supportive housing for homeless families subsidized outside the 7,300 to 8,000 units provided by the HUD McKinney-Vento programs, it is not known how large the gap is between the total amount of such housing and the 22,000 families estimated to need such housing.

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