Moving On: Where to Go from Single-Site Supportive Housing?
When people living in a single-site supportive housing program recover and no longer need to be in a setting with onsite services, how do you move them out? The lack of affordable housing in many cities leaves few options for alternative housing at the “back end” of single-site supportive housing. Consequently, individuals stay where they are, even though they don’t need such service-rich housing, depriving people who do need it from placement.
Shared Housing: An Untapped Resource for Ending Homelessness?
People in permanent supportive housing typically live alone. In contrast, most single adults live in households with other adults, and shared living markedly reduces the per-person cost for housing. Yet policies that support shared housing for homeless people are uncommon. The Section 8 housing subsidy program, for example, tacitly depresses the option of shared housing by reducing the amount of the subsidy if the individual lives with another person (He et al., 2010). There is no evidence that shared housing is associated with a worse outcome for homeless consumers. A study of shared housing among formerly homeless people with mental illness revealed that whether a person lived alone or in shared housing made no difference in quality of life, overall mental health status, social support, or safety. Shared housing was associated, however, with reduced psychotic symptomatology (He et al., 2010), suggesting that living with another person could improve functioning and be an antidote to social isolation. It is possible that, in today’s economy, shared living may be a desirable option for mental health consumers, as it is for many adults across the age span. Shared housing should be studied further, as it could be part of the solution to homelessness.