The Permanent Housing component of the Supportive Housing Program, the Department’s principal program to meet the needs of homeless people with disabilities, was established to offer homeless people with disabilities, including mental illness, an assurance of permanent housing and appropriate supportive services. The program is designed to provide a structure that counteracts the disruptions of both homelessness and disability. However, while many formerly homeless people remain in permanent supportive housing for many years, substantial numbers leave within months of entry. The questions of why people leave permanent housing and what happens to them constitute the principal focus of this study.
This study examines the experience of some 943 residents of permanent supportive housing in Philadelphia during the period from 2001 to 2005. The study shows that it is not necessarily a bad thing that some people leave “permanent” supportive housing. This study makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of how the structure of permanent supportive housing and the use of various means of stabilization at critical junctures in a resident’s stay can promote more stability and, thereby, greater health and independence, among those living there, whether they stay or subsequently leave.