Supportive housing

Supportive housing is designed to support individuals, not just socially but with basic life skills. Housing is coupled with social services such as job training, alcohol and drug abuse programs and case management. Often targeted at low-income workers and populations in need of assistance such as the homeless, those suffering from mental illness or substance abuse problems, and the elderly or medically frail.

  • As a solution for homelessness, supportive housing addresses two key problems:
    • Without housing, there is no basis from which to mitigate the factors which lead to homelessness
    • Without support services, the tenant is likely to return to homelessness for the reasons that lead to their loss of housing in the first place.


Permanent Supportive Housing is a solution to a problem rather than a band-aid fix (such as a shelter.) While many of those who stay in the shelter system remain in or return to the system for extended periods of time, a much higher percentage of those who are placed in permanent supportive housing remain housed.

Supportive Housing also costs significantly less than other systems where it's tenant base may reside, such as jails, hospitals, mental health facilities, and even shelters.

When paired with low-income housing, government subsidies (such as section 8) and other revenue generating operations, supportive housing residences are capable of supporting themselves and even turning a profit.


Prevailing rental rates and prices for housing in many US real estate markets complicate efforts to acquire and adapt existing buildings and building sites for use as supportive housing. The combination of circumstances confronting supportive housing proposals and their advocates can produce the belief that most such housing proposals are unfeasible.

In recent years, city and state government officials have come to believe that homelessness is a solvable problem. This has begone a movement toward alternative solutions rather funding the traditional solutions, shelter system, jails and hospitals. The current trend for "10 year plans" formulated by many city governments provide for supportive housing to end or reduce homelessness.

Where demand exceeds the supply of permanent supportive housing, many housing providers can be selective when admitting tenants. While this leads to an improved quality of life and a relatively high rate of success for successful applicants, the unsuccessful homeless remain in unsatisfactory situations. To some extent, this problem is being addressed by "first step" programs aimed at preparing people for residency in permanent housing.


  • Cost Per-day, per-person in New York City (2004)
    • Supportive Housing $41.85
    • Shelter $54.42
    • Prison $74.00
    • Jail $164.57
    • Mental Hospital $467
    • Hospital $1185
      • Source: The Lewin Group, 2004

Supportive Housing Providers

In the US


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