Supportive Housing: What to Know

Some people might end up on the streets because they can’t afford a home. If you are in this position, or you know someone who is, you should know that there are many opportunities for support. You just need to understand how each of these opportunities works and what they can offer you.

Understanding Supportive Housing

It is important to understand what supportive housing is before learning about the different types that exist. Since different people have different needs, you might find that one option is better for your situation than the others.

How Does Supportive Housing Differ From Other Types of Housing?

Supportive housing can effectively help people in need overcome some of their housing problems. The following are some features of supportive housing:

  • Stability and Affordability
  • Integration
  • Prioritizing Choice
  • Few Conditions

Stability and Affordability

According to The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), affordable housing means paying a maximum of 30% of a person’s gross income for housing every month. Which means residents in supportive housing generally pay rent that is no more than 30% of their income.


Supportive housing is all about offering people a chance to have stable housing in the long run. Residents of this supportive housing should have access to things like:

  • Grocery stores
  • Public transportation services
  • Provider offices
  • Parks
  • Other community features that are open to all residents

Prioritizing Choice

When you look at the supportive housing list of objectives, you will find promoting independence is an important goal. It concentrates on empowering individuals to make their own decisions. That would include having the freedom to come and go as they please, and the free will to decide how many visitors and meals they have each day.

Few Conditions

People who receive supportive housing can expect to deal with very few requirements. The reason for this is that supportive housing is intended to assist those who are not in the best situations. These include people with criminal records or poor credit. Fortunately, this means that there are rarely “blanket bans.” However, it could still be difficult for you to receive this kind of housing aid if you have a history of violence and problems in supportive housing.

What Types of Supportive Housing Are Available?

Supportive housing offers a variety of options to cover different needs and situations. There are mainly 4 types of supportive housing:

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

Transitional Shelters

A transitional shelter is a type of supportive option available for people in need. This is where they can find longer-term temporary housing. Most residents of this supportive housing option stay there between six months and two years. It aims to support people who are experiencing homelessness. Another advantage of these shelters is that they often include supportive services that can benefit people personally, professionally, and in other ways.

Emergency Shelters

In times of crisis, this is probably the first place that you should consider if you lose your home. Emergency shelters are facilities where people can receive assistance to help them regain some temporary stability. Depending on the policies of the shelter, a person may only stay there for a certain period of time. At the same time, helping those in need find housing that meets their long-term needs is one of the objectives of emergency shelters.

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)

If a person used to deal with chronic homelessness, they can get assistance from PSH. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) considers a person to be chronically homeless if they have no home of their own and live in one of the following places:

  • Unsuitable locations for human habitation: for a minimum of 12 months in a row or at least 4 different periods over the course of 3 years, where the cumulative total length equals 12 months.
  • Emergency Shelters: for a minimum of 12 consecutive months or at least 4 different periods over the course of 3 years, where the cumulative total length equals 12 months.
  • Safe Havens: for a minimum of 12 consecutive months or at least 4 different periods over the course of 3 years, where the cumulative total length equals 12 months.
  • Institutional Care Facilities: for less than 90 days and stayed in one of the above options before entering the facility.

Unfortunately, a lot of homeless people need this kind of long-term assistance because they have physical or mental problems. Along with secure housing, PSH also offers various support services.

Similar to RRH, PSH also focuses on a “housing first solution.” For this reason, it aims to provide people with supportive services to help them recover while working on getting them into private, permanent housing asap.

Rapid Re-Housing (RRH)

The “housing first solution” is the focus of RRH. Its purpose is to assist folks who don’t often deal with homelessness (i.e., non-chronic homelessness). People who receive assistance from this supportive option will be able to rent their own apartments while receiving temporary social services. The most important thing is to help these people get out of their homelessness situation as fast as possible.

What Benefits Can You Get From Supportive Housing?

Supportive housing offers a wide range of advantages because of the multiple services it provides to people in need. These services can be broken down into 3 categories:

  • Support Services for Housing
  • Service Support for Individuals
  • Services that are Both Voluntary and Assertive

Support Services for Housing

It is called “supportive housing” for a reason! The major focus of supportive housing is to help reduce homelessness and provide homeless people with decent places to live. In fact, service providers can also help the beneficiaries in many ways such as:

  • Helping tenants find adequate, secure, and affordable housing
  • Assisting tenants in developing connections with their landlords
  • Educating tenants about their duties and rights as renters
  • Taking action to stop evictions

Service Support for Individuals

In order to meet the health needs of those living in supportive housing, providers can offer a bunch of support services including:

  • Help the beneficiaries deal with their physical and mental issues.
  • Providing support to tenants struggling with drug abuse.
  • Supporting those seeking government benefits, such as Social Security benefits.
  • Helping tenants find work.

Services that are Both Voluntary and Assertive

The fact that these services are optional is another advantage. Therefore, residents are not required to take part in order to maintain their housing. However, even if the tenants don’t ask for assistance, service providers will frequently check in on them and offer services. That’s because service providers are aware that tenants can always use this form of assistance.

How Else Can You Get Support?

Other than supportive housing, there are many housing assistance opportunities available. While the government offers some of those opportunities, others are available through private landlords. You can check out the following alternatives:

Public Housing

Despite being funded by the federal government, this program is run by local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). This means that the government owns these properties, not private landlords. If you want to benefit from this assistance program, you have to meet some requirements that include:

  • Citizenship Status
  • Income Level
  • Family Status

Since your local PHA determines your eligibility, you need to get in touch with them to start the application process. Also, they can provide you with all of the information you need about this program.

Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)

Section 8, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, is another popular housing assistance option. Similar to Public Housing, local PHAs run this program, although the federal government makes it available. Section 8 provides recipients with housing vouchers that they can use to pay for housing expenses. The objective is to limit participants’ housing expenses to a maximum of 30% of their gross income. This is because the HUD considers a household “cost-burdened” if they spend more than 30% of their monthly income on housing.

However, people who benefit from this program can’t use these vouchers at just any property. They have to choose a property that accepts those vouchers as payment. The property must also pass an inspection that the HUD carries out. The goal of this inspection is to make sure that the housing unit is sanitary, safe, and adequate for people to live in. If you have any questions, or if you want to apply, you can reach out to your local PHA.

Mixed-Income Housing

People can get affordable housing units through Mixed-Income Housing. This opportunity is available through private landlords rather than the government. To encourage private landlords to provide this opportunity, the government offers them a tax credit. The reason why it’s called Mixed-Income Housing is that people who live in the same building have different levels of income. Each property will have its own prices and setup. While some buildings determine their prices on a tenant’s income, others offer a flat rent rate at a discounted price.


Homeless people need help at many levels. Supportive housing can be a good opportunity to find a safe place to live along with other support services. It involves the following assistance options:

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

However, this is not the only option available. There are other alternatives that may help people with their difficult circumstances. This could be one of the following:

You should contact your local PHA if you need to ask for more details or to submit an application. Finally, remember that there is more than one way out of a tough situation!

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