How You Can Benefit from Supportive Housing

Housing is a tough expense for many Americans to deal with. Especially those that are low-income. If you are someone (or know someone) that is struggling to keep up with housing costs and are even facing homeless, it’s important to know that there is support available. That is where supportive housing comes into play. Many people don’t even know that this housing opportunity exists, let alone how it may be an option for their specific situation. That is why it is important to understand what this type of housing is and how you can benefit from it!

What is Supportive Housing?

Before diving into the benefits of supportive housing, you want to know what supportive housing is and what different types are available. People dealing with certain situations will need different types of support.

What are Characteristics of Supportive Housing?

There has been proof of just how well supportive housing can help those in need. That’s because it features characteristics that can help people. Some characteristics of supportive housing include:

  • Permanence and Affordability
  • Integration
  • Focusing on Choice
  • Few Requirements to Get

Permanence and Affordability

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines affordable housing as being no more than 30% of an individual’s income. That means that tenants of supportive housing will typically pay at most 30% of their income towards their rent.


The whole point of this housing assistance is to be an option that will help individuals achieve long-term housing stability. That is why individuals that live in this supportive housing should have access to necessities like:

  • Public transportation services
  • Parks
  • Grocery stores
  • Provider offices
  • Other amenities of the neighborhood that other residents are able to access

Focusing on Choice

Supportive housing is meant to promote independence. That means that it focuses on giving people the power of choice. This would include being able to come and go as they want, and the ability to control their daily schedule which includes visitors and meals.

Few Requirements to Get

When people are getting supportive housing, they can expect to deal with very little requirements. That’s because people that are not in the best positions like people with criminal histories or bad credit are the ones that supportive housing aims to help. Luckily this means there are typically no “blanket bans”. However, if you are someone with a history of violence and issues in supportive housing then you may have a tough time actually getting this type of housing assistance.

What are Different Types of Supportive Housing?

When it comes to supportive housing, there are a bunch of different types that you can encounter. Four popular types of support housing include:

  • Emergency Shelters
  • Transitional Shelters
  • Rapid Re-Housing (RRH)
  • Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)

Emergency Shelters

When a household finds them dealing with a crisis, this should be one of the first places that they turn to. Emergency shelters are places that give people support services to help them get some short-term stability. The amount of time that a person can stay in their shelter will depend on the rules of the shelter. However, one of the goals of emergency shelters is to help people in need find housing that will work within their long-term wants and needs.

Transitional Shelters

Another supportive shelter is a transitional shelter. Transitional shelters provide a longer term temporary housing opportunity for people in need. Typically, people will live in this housing between 6 months and 24 months. It is designed to help individuals that are dealing with homelessness. One of the best parts about these shelters is the fact that they usually come with supportive services that can help people personally, in their career, and more.

Rapid Re-Housing (RRH)

When people are in need of housing quickly, this is a great opportunity to consider. That’s because this type of housing support opportunity is a “housing first solution”. It is designed to help those that don’t typically deal with homelessness (known as non-chronic homlessness). People that benefit from this support will be able to rent an apartment of their own while benefiting from temporary community support services. The goal is to quickly get a person or family out of their homeless situation.

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)

PSH is a program that can help people that used to be chronically homeless. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines someone as chronically homeless if they are a homeless person who either lives in:

  • Places not fit for human habitation (for at least 12 months or at least 4 separate times over the course of 3 years where the combined total length equals to 12 months.)
  • Safe Havens (for at least 12 months or at least 4 separate times over the course of 3 years where the combined total length equals to 12 months.)
  • Emergency Shelters (for at least 12 months or at least 4 separate times over the course of 3 years where the combined total length equals to 12 months.)
  • Institutional Care Facilities (for less than 90 days and lived in any of the options listed above prior to entering the facility.)

Many people that benefit from PSH have disabilities. Sadly, for many homeless individuals that have either physical or mental disabilities, they need this type of long-term support to help them. PSH comes along with intensive support resources on top of the safe and stable housing.

PSH is also a type of “housing first solution” (just like RRH). It focuses on recovery while trying to get individuals into independent/permanent housing as soon as possible while providing supportive services.

What are the Benefits of Supportive Housing?

There are so many benefits that come along with supportive housing. That’s because supportive housing can typically provide services to those in need. There are three principles when it comes supportive housing which are:

  • Housing Support Services
  • Personal Support Services
  • Voluntary yet Assertive Services

Housing Support Services

It should come as no surprise that supportive housing involves housing support services (it’s basically in the name!). But individuals that receive this assistance can benefit from support of service providers. Service providers can help tenants by:

  • Finding tenants decent, livable, and suitable housing
  • Helping tenants build relationships with their landlord
  • Providing education on the tenant’s responsibilities and rights as renters
  • Intervening to prevent evictions

Personal Support Services

Service providers can give a variety of support to the health needs of individuals in supportive housing. This includes:

  • Helping tenants deal with their mental health and physical health
  • Supporting tenants who deal with substance abuse
  • Giving guidance to people applying for government assistance like Social Security benefits
  • Assisting tenants with gaining employment

Voluntary Yet Assertive Services

Another benefit is the fact that these services are voluntary. That means tenants do not need to participate in order to keep their housing. However, service providers will continuously check up on tenants and offer services even if the tenants do not request support. That’s because tenants can benefit from the support listed above and service providers know that.

Alternatives to Supportive Housing

Besides supportive housing, there are other housing assistance opportunities available. Some opportunities are offered by the government while others are offered by private landlords. These options include:

Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)

One of the most popular housing assistance programs in America is Section 8. This is a HUD program, but it varies depending on the locality. In fact, local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) are the ones that manage this program. Section 8 can provide housing vouchers that recipients can use towards covering housing expenses. The goal here is to have recipients spend no more than 30% of their income towards housing costs. That’s because of the HUD definition for affordable housing. If a household spends more than 30% of their income towards housing then they are considered “cost-burdened”.

However, not every property accepts these vouchers as a form of payment. Even the properties that do accept these vouchers can’t just accept tenants with the property in any condition. Instead, they need to pass inspections that your local PHA will conduct. That’s because HUD wants the housing to be in a safe, decent, sanitary, and livable condition. If you want to apply or get more information on this program you will want to get in touch with your local PHA.

Public Housing

Another popular housing assistance option is Public Housing. This support opportunity is also managed by local PHAs. However, the units don’t have a private landlord. Instead, the local PHA will act as the landlord for these units. There are three main eligibility requirements that your local PHA will consider when determining your eligibility. These factors include:

  • Income Level
  • Family Status
  • Citizenship Status

If you are interested in this program you will want to get in touch with your local PHA.

Mixed-Income Housing

This is a type of affordable housing opportunity that is not available through the government. Instead, private landlords are offered an incentive through a tax credit to offer units at an affordable price. It’s called mixed-income housing because there will be a mix of income that lives in a specific building. How these units will be priced varies depending on the building. Some buildings will offer a flat rent rate at a reduced price while others base it off of a tenant’s income.

Bottom Line

When people are dealing with homelessness or tough housing situations, there may be more assistance than they realize. One particular opportunity is supportive housing. Supportive housing comes in many forms which includes:

  • Emergency Shelters
  • Transitional Shelters
  • Rapid Re-Housing (RRH)
  • Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)

Each opportunity can help individuals in its own unique way. However, some of the benefits that people can get are through service providers that focus on 3 principles:

  • Housing Support Services
  • Personal Support Services
  • Voluntary yet Assertive Services

Besides supportive housing there are other housing support opportunities to consider. Some alternatives to supportive housing are:

If you want more information on different housing assistance options then you can get in touch with your local PHA. They will have information on a variety of different housing opportunities that may be able to help!

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