Supportive Housing
Communities of veterans getting back on their feet

Supportive, or supported, housing is a combination of low-rent housing and social services developed in New York City in the 1970's and 1980's as a response to growing a homeless population.

In New York they are often single room occupancy buildings tailored towards certain groups of homeless people, such as veterans, people with substance abuse problems, and battered women.

Accustomed to the regimentation of military life, homeless veterans can thrive in supported housing, especially if it is veteran specific, as vets tend to feel more comfortable with other veterans.

“The royal road to recovery for psychologically injured veterans,” said Jonathan Shay, a leading PTSD psychologist and clinician at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) outpatient clinic in Boston, Mass, “is cohesive communities of other veterans. In my view, recovery happens best and most productively in a social setting.”

There are a number of facilities run by community organizations in New York City designed specifically to the meet needs of homeless veterans, some built in the last few years and a number that are still under construction.

The Jericho Project is building two supportive housing complexes for veterans in the Bronx with funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

When completed they will be able to house 132 veterans. Help USA is developing a housing project with 25 supportive housing units for disabled veterans in East New York. Black Vets for Social Justice just received federal money to establish five small supportive housing sites, which they hope to turn into supportive housing units for female veterans with children.

HUD's Veterans Assistance Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) also allocated $1.4 million in funds on Sept. 3 to the NY State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) to expand two permanent supportive housing locations just outside of New York City. These facilities, in Suffolk and Westchester counties, will be able to house another 175 veterans on top of the roughly 100 veterans already served. Around the country, the HUD has distributed more than $75 million to about 150 communities to provide permanent supportive housing.

These facilities cost roughly the same as the current status quo, said Patrick Markee, a senior policy analyst at the Coalition for the Homeless, because the homeless tend to rely heavily on emergency care at hospitals and emergency housing at shelters, both of which are costly.

“It’s not a cost issue,” Markee said. “It’s a leadership issue.”

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Watch the video to learn about a supportive housing facility for homeless veterans.



Next: NYC Housing Map