The Urban Institute released an interim evaluation of new permanent supportive housing (PSH) projects funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health’s Show Me Healthy Housing (SMHH) program, a grant program that subsidizes the development of PSH. The evaluation found positive changes for tenants in both health and monthly incomes.
PSH provides rent subsidies, case management, and support services for tenants who have been homeless or at risk of homelessness. SMHH supported four new PSH projects. One project targeted seniors with some apartments set aside for senior veterans; one targeted homeless veterans; one targeted individuals with serious mental illnesses; and one targeted families with some apartments set aside for homeless families. All four projects are new, and only two have had tenants for at least one year.
For the two projects that had tenants for at least one year, the positive outcomes included an increase of $100 in average monthly tenant income, a small increase in the percentage of households with earned income, and a reduction in the acuity of veterans’ health care and social service needs, especially among veterans entering PSH with the most severe needs. Among homeless families, Medicaid claims declined by 20%.
The evaluation also highlighted some challenges. The lack of long-term rental assistance was a challenge for families who entered PSH with a rapid re-housing voucher (an issue at the project targeting families). Another challenge was insufficient operating reserves, which required rents to be too high for the poorest renters without additional housing assistance. As a result, two projects had challenges in leasing up. Other challenges included over-restrictive admission criteria for an apartment, poor transportation access, and strained interpersonal relationships among tenants.
Permanent supportive housing is an evidence-based approach to reducing homelessness. The authors acknowledge that it is too soon to draw major conclusions from the evaluation because two of the projects have only recently begun receiving tenants. The Urban Institute will release a follow-up evaluation with additional outcome data next year.
Show Me Healthy Housing Two-Year Evaluation Report is available at: http://urbn.is/2F2Pzow