The plan for providing supportive services to tenants should be designed to ensure that all members of the household have easy, facilitated access to a flexible and comprehensive array of supportive services. This written plan should describe the available services, identifying whether they are provided directly or through referral linkages, by whom, in what location, and during what days and hours.

When creating the service plan for your project or evaluating the quality of an existing one, keep in mind the basic WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and WHY rules of thumb that apply to many planning processes.


As with all aspects of supportive housing planning and operations, the needs and characteristics of prospective supportive housing tenants should drive the design of the services plan. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Who is the targeted tenancy? Why was this target population/mix selected? Do the sponsor, funding source(s) and community agree on the proposed tenant mix?
  2. What supports do you anticipate that the tenants will need at initial occupancy? In three years?
  3. How will the service provider(s) respond to changes in the population over time, particularly for tenants with substance abuse issues, mental health challenges and/or HIV/AIDS? (e.g. relapse, decompensation, deteriorating health, etc.)



Based on information about the target population and their anticipated service needs, you will want to identify the specific services that will be offered to tenants. These services may be offered by the lead service provider or in partnership with one or more community-based organizations. In addition to identifying the specific services such as case management, employment support, mental health services, substance abuse counseling, life skills education and parenting classes, you also will want to consider:

  1. Are the types and level of supportive services to be provided adequate for the population served?
  2. Will each service be available to all of the tenants? When will working tenants have access to services?
  3. Are language and literacy barriers addressed? How will staff address the varying backgrounds and cultures of tenants? 
  4. How many tenants do you expect to use each service? With what frequency?
  5. What is the staff/tenant ratio? How does this ratio compare to similar supportive housing projects?



It is not enough to simply have a service available to tenants, the service also must be offered at a time and location that increases the likelihood that tenants will use it. The first stage in making this determination is identifying where the service will be provided. Although there are many variations, there are typically three options for the location of a given service:

  • On-Site: In supportive housing projects that have a significant number of supportive housing units located within the same building, it may be feasible to provide services on-site. Tenants living in buildings with on-site supportive services may access all, some or none of their services on-site, depending on the services available and their individual preferences.
  • Community-Based: Tenants access services at one or more locations in the community. In this service delivery model, it is important to ensure that tenants have transportation and any other support in order to successfully participate in services. This model can be used whether the supportive housing units are located in the same building or scattered throughout the community.
  • Mobile: Tenants have a case manager or a team of support (such as an Assertive Community Treatment team) who can provide services at a location of the tenants’ choosing. This location could be in the tenant’s home, at a community location such as a park or restaurant, or at an organizational office. Mobile services generally follow the tenant regardless of their location and are typically used when tenants live in units of housing scattered throughout the community.

Regardless of the service provision location , it should be fully accessible with any appropriate reasonable accommodations provided to tenants with disabilities to facilitate their participation.


The initial plan for supportive services is created during the project planning phase, but should be revisited throughout the life of the project, as tenants’ needs change. You will want to create a timeline for drafting the services plan, reviewing it and revising it with key partners and beginning its implementation as tenants move in. 


It is important to be clear about the purpose behind the provision of supportive services to tenants as well as the underlying philosophies of the organizations that will be providing the services. You may want to consider:

  1. How do the services support tenants in using stable housing as a platform for health, recovery and individual growth? 
  2. How will participation in voluntary services be encouraged?  Has staff received the support they need to engage tenants in this service model? 
  3. How will tenants be involved in providing input into the services plan for the project, both initially and on an ongoing basis? 
  4. Will tenants be involved in evaluating the effectiveness of the services provided? If so, how?


Click here for more detailed Supportive Services Planning Tools, including a suggested timeline and modules for service plan development and implementation.

Click here to access the Supportive Services Planning Worksheet, designed to help you create a menu of the services available to tenants.

Click here to view a Sample Services Plan.

Click here to learn about key differences between Service Planning in Affordable Housing vs. Supportive Housing.

Next: Individualized Service Plans

Go to the Quality Toolkit Table of Contents.

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