CSH Testifies - Supportive Housing Can Help Address Heroin Epidemic

Written Comments of the Corporation for Supportive Housing

Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction Hearing to

Examine the issues facing communities in the wake of increased heroin abuse

February 26, 2016


My name is Kristin Miller, and I am the Director of the New York Program at the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH). Thank for this opportunity to testify before this important task force. CSH has 25 year track record of innovation and investment in New York. Since 1991, CSH has made over $138M in loans to supportive housing developers for the creation of over 15,000 permanent supportive and affordable housing units in the State.

CSH applauds the efforts of the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction and the leadership of Senators Terrance Murphy, George A. Amedore, Jr., Robert Ortt and Martin J. Golden. Thank you, thank you, for elevating this issue and keeping it in the spotlight, where it belongs. As we’ve heard again and again this afternoon, heroin and opioids are destroying people’s lives and damaging families and neighborhoods.  I am here today to talk about supportive housing, a proven solution and valuable tool in our fight to stem this epidemic.

CSH’s recently released Supportive Housing’s Vital Role in Addressing the Opioid Epidemic in New York State provides a background of the opioid epidemic in New York communities, and cites research showing supportive housing as a solution for individuals facing substance use disorders. Supportive housing combines affordable housing with services that help people facing complex challenges live with stability, autonomy and dignity. It has been demonstrated that through the stability found in supportive housing, people using heroin successfully avail themselves to the services that address their substance use disorder.[1] In fact, a study published in 2014 by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that supportive housing was successful in reducing the use of, and costs associated with, substance abuse and crisis care services, including shelters, detox centers, jails and medical care (hospitalizations and emergency room visits). The findings suggest that individuals actively using substances can be housed successfully and stabilized without forcing treatment requirements on them.[2]

New York, too, knows supportive housing is an answer. I want to thank Senator Golden who led 26 of his senate colleagues, 11 of whom serve on this Task Force, in sending a letter to Governor Cuomo calling on him to fund new supportive housing across the State. During Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address, he did indeed commit to creating 20 thousand new units of supportive housing statewide over the next 15 years. These units are in addition to the 15 thousand units Mayor De Blasio announced for NYC last November. CSH congratulates the Mayor and Governor in taking this important step to housing our most vulnerable New Yorkers. We urge this Task Force to help us ensure these new units are realized, and that people and communities struggling with the opioid epidemic have access to them and the important services they will need to achieve substance use recovery.

Housing is essential as an anchor of stability. Home forms a firm platform from which individuals can pursue the services they need. It is our responsibility to make sure they have access to the services as well as housing.

Without supportive housing, many individuals  struggling with opioid or heroin addiction will continue to cycle endlessly between homelessness and expensive public services delivery systems including, inpatient hospital beds, psychiatric centers, detox services, jails and prisons, at an enormous public and human cost.

We ask members of this Task Force to help these individuals by ensuring that the recent commitments to new supportive housing in New York are realized through this year’s budget allocations, and that these resources are accessible to people struggling with substance use disorders, particularly heroin and opioid addictions.


[1] Gray, Paul; Fraser, Penny. Housing and heroin use: The role of floating support. Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy. Vol. 12, Iss. 4, 2005.

[2] Neighbors, Charles; Hall, Gerod; et.al. Evaluation of NY/NY III Housing for Active Substance Users. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. 2014.


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