PHAs that commit to serving households who have been homeless and/or have special needs find the most effective way to do so is in partnership with local service providers. PHAs can ask service agencies to work with them to ensure that these families receive access to public housing and remain stably housed.
Make Referrals to the Public Housing Waitlist
PHAs can invite service providers to refer households to their waitlists. By doing so, your PHA can ensure that your resources are reaching households who are homeless and/or have special needs that meet your waitlist preferences. Service partners can improve access to those who need your resources most while providing additional third-party support and information during the application process.
Provide Assistance with Applications
PHA staffs sometime spend many hours going back and forth with applicants to fill in missing information and/or track down related documentation. Why not teach a service provider about your application requirements and ask them to help? You can customize your agreements with service partners so that they can assist the applicants they refer with collecting supporting documentation and submitting complete applications.
Provide Community Building Activities and Afterschool Programs
While potlucks, bingo and tutoring programs don’t directly impact homelessness, these types of activities are very effective in helping PHAs and service staff to get to know the families living in public housing and address challenges before they become a threat to housing stability. They also provide a sense of community and support that can enhance success in property management.
Provide Supportive Services for Tenants
To the extent possible, supportive services should be customized with the needs of tenants in mind. Supportive housing services are intended to help ensure housing stability and to maximize each tenant’s ability to live independently. Some examples include case management, mental health services, financial counseling, employment and senior services. These services might be provided individually or through group sessions. Many providers would love to engage people living in public housing into their services but don’t have the opportunity to do direct outreach. By setting up a morning coffee hour in a building, for example, a provider can get to know the tenants and build trusting relationships that can lead to service engagement. For a comprehensive list of support services you may want to consider asking partner agencies to provide for your public housing residents, go to the section of the toolkit on supportive services in supportive housing.
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