Permanent Supportive Housing

David Pascua

After attending several workshops from the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference’s track on Permanent Supportive Housing, these were some of the key subject matters and takeaways. 

Supporting Moving On from Permanent Supportive Housing

This inspiring workshop from the 2016 National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference highlighted the success of the Jericho Project in New York, NY in supporting program participants towards moving on from permanent supportive housing (PSH). Jericho staff refers to persons who move on as “graduates” of the program. The audience was fortunate to hear a personal story told by a graduate. Her story was heart-warming and convincing that moving on from PSH is preferred by some and can be done!

Main components of this presentation and areas of discussion included:

Who was moved on?

Choice is the most important factor! The main group of clients in permanent supportive housing who were able to be moved on were people who wanted to move on.  Among those who were motivated to move on, the main clients were those who had, within the last year, no tenant complaints, paid rent on time, and had no hospitalizations.

What does it take to start moving clients on?

Political will:  Identify and engage key partners such as the state governor, mayors, advocacy groups, public housing authorities, and your peer programs to build toward these programs and develop pathways for clients.

Data: Collect, track and reference pertinent data to measure established goals, such as what are the number of housing authority units, how are they allocated, how are turnovers allocated, or tracking housing retention. This will guide your programs and let you know if your programs are doing what they are designed and implemented to achieve.

Services: One of the key areas of moving someone on from PSH is provide the appropriate level of support services. Key areas of consideration for providing quality services include: maintaining qualified staff; having a balanced staff to client ratio, utilizing


Use each tough case as an opportunity to learn each other’s system, build relationships with other organizations, coworkers, and with clients. Learn about the challenges, priorities and best practices within each system and big picture. For example, public housing authorities want low turn-over rates, Medicare is pressured to keep costs down, politicians need to raise money and want to be re-elected. Where do you fit in?

Keep Focused on the Goal to End Homelessness

When making decisions throughout the organization, ask if this gets us closer or further away from ending homelessness. Build on partnerships within your community, region, or state to achieve your mutual goals. View challenges as opportunities to grow as an organization or staff member.

Outcomes for Housing Choice Voucher Set Aside Program

Over the past 5 years, 200 Housing Choice Vouchers per year have been set aside to move people on from Permanent Supportive Housing. This helps get them an incentive and boost to leave the assistance program. Since September of 2008, 1,200 persons or singles have been leased through the program. Of these persons who received the Housing Choice Voucher, 87 percent have remained housed as of March 2016.

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How to Better Target your Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) to End Chronic Homelessness

This  workshop within the Permanent Supportive Housing track focused on how to better target your existing permanent supportive housing (PSH) units to end chronic homelessness and how to align the allocation of PSH resources with a statewide coordinated entry approach. The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness highlighted efforts within their state towards achieving these objectives.

Main components and areas of discussion included:

Coordinated Assessments

The key to targeting your permanent supportive housing to end chronic homeless is largely through haveing a Coordinated Access or Assessment system. This Statewide System, as we have here in Connecticut, helps to prioritize effectively through the data stored in HMIS and by using common assessment tools like the VI-SPDAT. People can be assessed at any participating agency as well as several outreach points and brought into the housing process.


In order to target housing for chronicity, priority should be given based on length of time homeles and their overall vulnerability, as determined by VI-SPDAT. Having a prioritization system, in general, is one of the key components to ending chronic homelessness.

What Has Worked Well

Through coordinated access and the development of statewide systems, communities have a much stronger handle on knowing who is homeless and what their needs are. Statewide system allows for easier access for homeless persons to receive assistance, persons with highest needs are prioritized for housing assistance, and it is easier to identify gaps in system, such as the need to address housing retention, when the information is shared and stored collectively. Developing these systems also leads to increased accountability of all participating agencies and partners

What Needs Improvement

  • Inaccuracies in conducting the VI-SPDAT, such as not answering questions truthfully.

  • Short-term solution has been to still house persons with low VI scores if determined by community providers that persons are more vulnerable than indicated.

  • Long-term solution includes consideration to switch to a different assessment tool to determine vulnerability

Documenting Chronic Homelessness (CH)

  • Staff struggles to gather all required documentation in a timely manner

  • Goal is to add staff to the Coordinated Assessment system who will gather CH documentation prior to housing vacancies becoming available

Incorporating Victims of Domestic Violence (DV)

  • Currently, DV victims have the option of being assessed at any non-DV agency

  • Statewide system will eventually allow for victims to be assessed at DV agencies and limited/appropriate data entry into HMIS will be possible
    Finding All Homeless Persons

  • New Mexico is a very rural state where many encampments are based in the wilderness and homeless persons do not wish to be found

  • Efforts are being made to target street outreach and expand coordinated assessments to common locations frequented by homeless persons

For more information regarding this topic click here.