The supportive services provided in supportive housing distinguish supportive housing from other types of affordable housing. To the extent possible, the supportive services available in a supportive housing project should be customized to the needs of tenants. Supportive housing support services are intended to help ensure housing stability and to maximize each tenant’s ability to live independently. Depending upon the supportive housing model, supportive services may be provided on-site within the supportive housing development, off-site at a central community location or provided through a mobile team of multidisciplinary service providers that visit tenants in their homes. Additionally, services should be designed and delivered to promote integration of tenants into their communities to the greatest extent possible.

Staffing patterns in supportive housing vary based upon the population being served, the goals of the project, the number of tenants to be served and available resources. The ratio of direct service staff to tenants will vary based upon the anticipated intensity of tenants’ need, but is often between 1:10 and 1:25.  This ratio is for supportive service staff only and does not include housing or property management staff.

The examples of services and staff roles below are commonly offered in conjunction with supportive housing, but do not represent an exhaustive list. Services and staffing should be tailored to the needs and interests of the targeted tenants. 

Case Management/Service Coordination

This is the most widely used form of services in supportive housing. The case manager does not provide every service a tenant needs but helps broker relationships between the tenant and other service providers. Case management can include new tenant orientation, assisting the tenant in accessing services such as child care or mental health treatment, and supporting the tenant in meeting all obligations of tenancy. Click here to learn more about the Role of the Case Manager.

Mental Health Services

This category of services focuses on assisting a tenant in improving their mental health status. Services under this category may include psychosocial assessment, individual or group counseling, support groups, and peer mentoring. Click here for an Overview of Community-Based Mental Health Services.

Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services

This category of services is designed to assist tenants in addressing substance abuse. Services may include relapse prevention and recovery planning, individual or group counseling, harm reduction services, and inpatient rehabilitation. Click here to learn more about Substance Use Services and Supportive Housing.

Independent Living Skills

Tenants in supportive housing may need assistance in acquiring or regaining skills to maximize their independence. This may include assistance with rent payment and budgeting, conflict resolution, training in cooking/meal preparation, training in personal hygiene and self-care, and training in housekeeping and apartment safety.

Employment Services

These services are designed to assist a tenant in accessing employment or improving their employment situation. Services may include vocational counseling, job placement and supported employment. Employment service staff may assist tenants in developing career plans, establish relationships with businesses in the community to help secure jobs for tenants and serve as liaisons between tenants and employers to address problems and issues. Click here for more about Employment Services in Supportive Housing and a Sample Employment Self-Assessment for Tenants.

Health/Medical Services

This category of services ensures that a tenant is addressing their physical health. This is particularly important as persons experiencing homelessness often have serious, unaddressed health needs. Services may include routine medical care, HIV services, medication management and nutrition counseling. Click here for more about HIV Services in Supportive Housing.

Peer Support Services

For adults, peer support services are provided by someone who is on their own recovery journey and has received training in how to help others who participate in mental health services. For children, peer services are called “family-to-family” services. Peer support specialists can help people find interesting or fun things to do, advocate for themselves, make friends, get a job, find better housing and learn skills to live well in the community.

Next: Designing the Supportive Service Plan

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