National Evaluation of the Supportive Housing Demonstration Program
- January 1995 (200 pages)
- February 21, 1995
The HUD-sponsored National Evaluation of the Supportive Housing Demonstration Program reviews the results of what PD&R Assistant Secretary Michael A. Stegman has called "perhaps the best designed of the many HUD-administered McKinney homeless assistance programs." The Supportive Housing Demonstration Program (SHDP) was composed of two separate initiatives -- the Transitional Housing program that offered housing and services to help families move toward stability, while the Permanent Housing program provided long-term housing for disabled individuals. In 1992 Congress transformed SHDP into a permanent program that provided additional flexibility. In 1992 Transitional Housing projects were serving over 10,000 households, of whom almost half were one- or two-parent families with children. Half came from shelters or the streets; others were living independently or with relatives, or had been in hospitals or treatment facilities. Although the range and mix of supportive services offered through Transitional Housing programs varied, money management and housing location services were almost universal -- household management, prevocational training, and vocational counseling were also common features. Overall, Transitional Housing projects helped participants make significant progress toward independent living. Seventy percent of families who completed the program moved to stable housing, compared to less than one-third of those who left the program early. By the time they "graduated" from transitional housing, employment among participants had doubled and receipt of most kinds of public assistance had actually declined. However, many sponsors noted that progress was impeded by a lack of local employment opportunities and affordable housing. The Permanent Housing component of SHDP achieved similar success with a traditionally transitory population: 56 percent of participants suffered from chronic mental illness, while 31 percent were developmentally disabled. These permanent housing projects supported over 1,600 housing units and offered services that frequently included money management, household management counseling, and medication monitoring, as well as other assistance. Although many who entered the program had histories of residential instability, almost 70 percent of participants remained in program housing for at least a year, and half of those who left the program entered other stable housing situations. Modest increases in employment were also recorded. Case management services were seen as crucial to this success, challenging participants to become as productive as possible and linking them with needed services and resources. The study concluded that SHDP program sponsors ran cost-effective programs that served diverse populations and utilized a wide variety of services and housing types in meeting program goals. One of the most important factors in SHDP's effectiveness was the flexibility of the Federal funding, which enabled program sponsors to provide multiple and specialized services tailored to the needs of the target population and the characteristics of their community. Further increasing this flexibility to facilitate the creation of a local continuum of care is the keynote of HUD's proposal to consolidate its homeless assistance programs. In addition to important demographic information on project clients, the evaluation also offers previously unavailable data on the characteristics of service providers, the nature of the housing and supportive services provided, and the distribution of costs and funding sources.