Another possible approach to securing housing units for a child welfare supportive housing initiative is to secure units within affordable housing developments that are in the development pipeline. While potentially viable, this approach is somewhat less straightforward because affordable housing units are not always intended to serve special needs families, may not be easily integrated with services (e.g. does not have space for on-site services), and may even have policies that screen tenants out of consideration based on poor criminal or credit histories.
Moreover, rents in affordable housing buildings may not actually be low enough to be affordable to the lowest-income families eligible for supportive housing. (The term ‘affordable’ may simply mean that the rent is lower-than-market and may be set at levels intended for moderate income families as opposed to low or very-low income families.)
Using units within affordable housing developments could be viable if pursued in conjunction with the second approach, where rental subsidies like Section 8 Vouchers or Family Unification Program Vouchers from housing authorities are used within affordable housing units. Specifically, PHAs are able to provide project-base Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers where the vouchers can be tied to the specific affordable housing buildings and a building-based subsidy. Doing so creates incentives for affordable housing owners to set-aside units for child welfare-involved families.
To identify potential affordable housing units in the pipeline, communities should contact their local or state housing finance agencies.