Supportive Housing

Open Door Supportive Housing is a permanent supportive housing (PSH) program providing tenant-based rental assistance with supportive services for adults exiting chronic homelessness.

What is Permanent Supportive Housing?

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is an intervention that combines affordable housing assistance with voluntary support services to address the needs of people exiting chronic homelessness. The services are designed to build independent living and tenancy skills and connect people with community-based health care, treatment, and employment services. In addition to ending a person’s homelessness and increasing their housing stability, permanent supportive housing has been shown to improve health and well-being.

A cost-effective solution, permanent supportive housing has been shown to lower public costs associated with the use of crisis services such as shelters, hospitals, jails and prisons. (Source: National Alliance to End Homelessness)

Where do people live in Supportive Housing?

People in Open Door Supportive Housing live in apartments or small housing units throughout the city of Lubbock. Some participants live in units that are owned by Open Door, but most participants live in apartments owned by private landlords. All participants in Open Door Supportive Housing are on a standard lease agreement just like any other renter. Like all lease agreements, activities such as keeping guests for prolonged periods and illegal drug use is prohibited, and participants can be evicted by the landlord for these kinds of lease violations.

What are the short-term goals of Supportive Housing?

Open Door Supportive Housing seeks to identify the most vulnerable people experiencing chronic homelessness and quickly move them into permanent supportive housing without preconditions or barriers. Once in Supportive Housing, Open Door provides comprehensive supportive services to help participants gain housing stability (stay housed) and improve health and holistic wellbeing. Additionally, Open Door helps participants increase their income and gain access to a variety of mainstream benefits.

Who qualifies for Supportive Housing?

Open Door Supportive Housing serves adults without children who meet the definition of Chronic Homelessness (CH) as defined by The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). People who are chronically homeless have experienced homelessness for at least a year – or repeatedly – while struggling with a disabling condition such as a serious mental illness, substance use disorder, or physical disability.

Additionally, Open Door, along with other service providers in our community, conduct assessments (Coordinated Entry Assessments) which help determine eligibility as chronically homeless, as well as, help prioritize people who have the highest chronicity and acuity for our housing program.

Do people pay rent in Supportive Housing?

All Open Door Supportive Housing participants pay 30% of their income toward their rent and utilities while Open Door subsidizes the remaining rent and utilities. When participants enter the program with little or no income, Open Door can pay the full cost of rent and utilities until the participant gains income. If a participant loses income while in Supportive Housing, Open Door covers the cost of rent and utilities so the participant doesn’t lose housing. This sliding-scale approach incentivizes participants to seeks ways of increasing their income through employment and other sources.

What are the long-term goals of Supportive Housing?

Open Door has set the goal of ending chronic homelessness in Lubbock by 2020, which involves developing enough PSH to match the estimated number of people experiencing chronic homelessness at any point in time. In 2017, the estimated number of people experiencing chronic homelessness in Lubbock based on the annual Point-in-Time Count was 85 people. In January 2018, after the expansion of Open Door Supportive Housing, the Point-in-Time Count identified 44 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness, a reduction of 57%. We are expecting to see this number continue to decline in 2020.

One of the significant reasons why this number has been cut in half and why ending chronic homelessness is an achievable goal is because chronic homelessness is a static group within homelessness. Unlike situational homelessness, which includes many people constantly entering and exiting the system, chronic homelessness, which accounts for about 15% of all homelessness, remains very static from year to year.

NEED HOUSING?

If you or someone you know if currently experiencing homelessness, the first step to accessing assistance is completing a housing assessment through Coordinated Entry. This brief assessment will help us evaluate your needs and direct you to the most appropriate housing intervention for you in our community.

There are currently several Coordinated Entry Locations in Lubbock: Open Door and The Salvation Army of Lubbock. Contact us or another location for more information on the hours during which assessments are provided.

For other questions, contact the Community Center staff at (806) 341-9467  or contact 2-1-1 Texas for a list of other community services by dialing 2-1-1 from any phone.

The solution to homelessness is a home.

Open Door provides permanent supportive housing (PSH) for people experiencing chronic homelessness. Open Door uses the Housing First approach which is an internationally recognized best practice for ending homelessness.

What is housing first?

Housing First is a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, thus ending their homelessness and serving as a platform from which they can pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life. This approach is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and place to live before attending to anything less critical, such as getting a job, budgeting properly, or attending to substance use issues. Additionally, Housing First is based on the theory that client choice is valuable in housing selection and supportive service participation, and that exercising that choice is likely to make a client more successful in remaining housed and improving their life.

Who can be housed?

A Housing First approach can benefit both homeless families and individuals with any degree of service needs. The flexible and responsive nature of a Housing First approach allows it to be tailored to help anyone. As such, a Housing First approach can be applied to help end homelessness for a household who became homeless due to a temporary personal or financial crisis and has limited service needs, only needing help accessing and securing permanent housing. At the same time, Housing First has been found to be particularly effective approach to end homelessness for high need populations, such as chronically homeless individuals.

What are the elements of a housing first program? Housing First programs often provide rental assistance that varies in duration depending on the household’s needs. Consumers sign a standard lease and are able to access supports as necessary to help them do so. A variety of voluntary services may be used to promote housing stability and well-being during and following housing placement.

Two common program models follow the Housing First approach but differ in implementation. Permanent supportive housing (PSH) is targeted to individuals and families with chronic illnesses, disabilities, mental health issues, or substance use disorders who have experienced long-term or repeated homelessness. It provides long-term rental assistance and supportive services.

A second program model, rapid re-housing, is employed for a wide variety of individuals and families. It provides short-term rental assistance and services. The goals are to help people obtain housing quickly, increase self-sufficiency, and remain housed. The Core Components of rapid re-housing—housing identification, rent and move-in assistance, and case management and services—operationalize Housing First principals.

How is Housing First different from other approaches?

Housing First does not require people experiencing homelessness to address all of their problems including behavioral health problems, or to graduate through a series of services programs before they can access housing. Housing First does not mandate participation in services either before obtaining housing or in order to retain housing. The Housing First approach views housing as the foundation for life improvement and enables access to permanent housing without prerequisites or conditions beyond those of a typical renter. Supportive services are offered to support people with housing stability and individual well-being, but participation is not required as services have been found to be more effective when a person chooses to engage. Other approaches do make such requirements in order for a person to obtain and retain housing.

Does Housing First work?

There is a large and growing evidence base demonstrating that Housing First is an effective solution to homelessness. Housing First is endorsed by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness as a “best practice” for governments and service-agencies to use in their fight to end chronic homelessness in America. Consumers in a Housing First model access housing faster and are more likely to remain stably housed. This is true for both PSH and Rapid Re-housing programs. PSH has a long-term housing retention rate of up to 98 percent. Studies have shown that rapid re-housing helps people exit homelessness quickly—in one study, an average of two months—and remain housed. A variety of studies have shown that between 75 percent and 91 percent of households remain housed a year after being rapidly re-housed.

More extensive studies have been completed on PSH finding that clients report an increase in perceived levels of autonomy, choice, and control in Housing First programs. A majority of clients are found to participate in the optional supportive services provided, often resulting in greater housing stability. Clients using supportive services are more likely to participate in job training programs, attend school, discontinue substance use, have fewer instances of domestic violence, and spend fewer days hospitalized than those not participating.

Finally, permanent supportive housing has been found to be cost efficient. Providing access to housing generally results in cost savings for communities because housed people are less likely to use emergency services, including hospitals, jails, and emergency shelter, than those who are homeless. One study found an average cost savings on emergency services of $31,545 per person housed in a Housing First program over the course of two years. Another study showed that a Housing First program could cost up to $23,000 less per consumer per year than a shelter program.

*Source: National Alliance to End Homelessness

https://endhomelessness.org/resource/housing-first/