Public Housing Agencies and Permanent Supportive Housing for Chronically Homeless People. 3. Public Housing Agencies and Permanent Supportive Housing


In many communities PHAs are involved in administering housing assistance similar to vouchers for homeless people with disabilities through HUD’s Shelter Plus Care program. Shelter Plus Care requires a commitment of matching funds for supportive services in an aggregate amount that matches the total amount of grant funding for housing assistance. PHAs that administer Shelter Plus Care usually do so as part of ongoing collaborations that involve public agencies or non-profit organizations that pay for and deliver supportive services for homeless people and people with disabilities.

In Shelter Plus Care, the organization providing the supportive services usually identifies homeless people who need PSH and refers them to the PHA to obtain the housing assistance. That model is also used for PSH that uses the mainstream HCV Program. In addition to identifying homeless people who are eligible for specialized programs such as Shelter Plus Care, or for waiting list preferences or set-asides that the PHA may have for homeless people, the partner agency may help the homeless person through the application process, including obtaining needed documentation. The partner then helps the person locate a housing unit and persuade the landlord to agree to rent and helps with moving in, setting up utilities, and obtaining household supplies and furnishings. These agencies may also deliver ongoing case management and support services to help the person integrate into the community and handle problems that may arise with meeting tenancy obligations.

In addition to this "tenant-based" model for providing PSH to formerly homeless people, some PHAs have followed a "project-based" model. Under federal law and regulations, most PHAs have the authority to convert up to 20 percent of their HCVs into project-based assistance, in which the subsidized household first uses the voucher in a particular housing development. The PHA selects sponsors (developers or owners) to receive project-based vouchers, making a commitment to fill the units with tenants with voucher rent subsidies. The subsidy retains some of the features of tenant-based housing assistance, in that the household can move out of the development after some period of time and use the voucher in other housing. The PHA then "back-fills" the vacant unit with another tenant with a voucher. The PHA often maintains separate waiting lists for individual project-based voucher developments.

Some PHAs have begun to integrate PSH into public housing for elderly and NED tenants--for example, by setting aside 25 percent of units for homeless people with disabilities, with on-site services to be provided by a community partner and financed through a state-funded supportive housing program administered by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (New Haven, Connecticut) or a local behavioral health authority (Columbus/Franklin County, Ohio).

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