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Frequently Asked Questions

Permanent supportive housing is permanent, deeply affordable housing where services are offered to help homeless, disabled and low-income people live independently in the community. Tenants have leases or lease-like agreements; apartments are affordable; rent cannot exceed a third of tenants’ income; and property management and services are provided by not-for-profit organizations.  The concept behind supportive housing is simple: Tenants rent attractive, safe, affordable apartments and have access from on-site or off-site professionals to whatever support they need to stay housed and healthy.

Supportive housing is built to blend seamlessly with buildings around it. Not-for-profit organizations typically develop supportive housing to be either the nicest building on the block or ‘invisible’ to enhance desirability for neighbors and tenants.  In some areas, it might be a few units within an existing apartment complex, and in other areas it might be an entire building.

Are you literally homeless, living outside, in your car, or in an emergency shelter? If so, complete a housing assessment, called Coordinated Assessment, at Front Steps, Salvation Army, or by phone. If you are eligible for a housing program in the community, such as Permanent Supportive Housing or another type of housing program, you will be contacted by the appropriate agency once they have an opening. A case manager at the agency will work with you to help you find housing.

To complete the Coordinated Assessment:

Visit Front Steps at 500 E. 7th Street, Austin TX 78701, or
Salvation Army at 501 E. 8th Street, Austin TX 78701
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 9 am - 4 pm

Or call 512-234-3630
Monday - Friday from 9 am - 4 pm

To find out more information about Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8), visit the Housing Authority of the City of Austin's webpage or call the office at 512-477-1314.

Supportive housing can help people with psychiatric disabilities, people with histories of addiction, formerly homeless people, frail seniors, families, young people aging out of foster care, individuals leaving correctional facilities, and people living with HIV/AIDS to live independently with dignity in the community. Tenants of supportive housing often face two or more of these categories of challenges. For these populations, permanent supportive housing is a highly effective intervention. Research indicates that • More than 80% of residents stay housed for at least one year • Incarceration rates are reduced by 50% • Emergency room visits decrease by 50% • Emergency detoxification services decrease by 85%, and • There is a 50% increase in earned income.

Although permanent supportive housing is a resource-intensive intervention, the high public costs of homelessness mean that it costs essentially the same amount of money to house someone in stable, supportive housing as it does to leave that person homeless and stuck in the revolving door of high-cost crisis care and emergency housing. Cost studies demonstrate that we can either waste money prolonging people’s homelessness or spend those dollars on a long-term solution that produces positive results for people and their communities.

For more information please see the full City of Austin Permanent Supportive Housing Strategy.

Permanent supportive housing is a combination of extremely affordable housing and support services tailored to each individual or family. Just like their neighbors, people who live in supportive housing sign leases, have keys, and pay rent.

The range of services offered is flexible and depends on the needs of the residents. They can include medical and mental healthcare, vocational and employment services, child care, substance-abuse counseling, and independent living skills training.

Residents will primarily include Austin's most vulnerable chronically homeless population, many of whom are frequent users of public services like 911, courts and hospitals. Tenants can include people with psychiatric disabilities, people with histories of addiction, seniors, families, people living with HIV and AIDS, and young adults transitioning out of foster care. In most cases the service provider organization selects tenants from its own waitlist or pool of clients, and lets other agencies know when they have an opening. They then screen the client based on their particular program or tenant screening guidelines.

Supportive housing is not a shelter with an open-door policy. It has a set number of apartments allotted for homeless people with special needs.  These apartments are offered on a permanent basis and by referral only.  Further, all residents are referred by local agencies with a preference given to local residents. Most importantly, once a resident is housed in PSH, they are no longer homeless.

Because supportive housing features support staff that are focused on protecting vulnerable tenants, crime rates usually decrease as a result of supportive housing development.  Management often works closely with local police to root out illegal activity in the neighborhood.

No, in fact the opposite is true.  There is no evidence that property values diminish at all as a result of supportive housing development while there is both statistical and anecdotal evidence that property values increase.  A 2008 study quantifying the impact of development on neighborhoods shows surrounding property values substantially increased in eight of nine neighborhoods surveyed.  Common sense supports this notion since sponsors either turn blighted buildings into attractive new housing or build on abandoned empty lots that are frequently magnets for illegal activity. Furthermore, historically supportive housing has served as a catalyst for economic development.  Because supportive housing either rehabilitates a decrepit building or builds on an empty lot, it improves a block’s look and feel.

HHSD Budget On July 28, 2010, City Manager Marc Ott outlined the proposed budget for the 2011 Fiscal Year, which maintains core services and includes additional funding for a number of key initiatives. The budget for the Health and Human Services Department includes $100,000 for the Homeless Services Continuum to address the support services needed for prevention, rapid re-housing, and permanent supportive housing. NHCD Budget

In FY 2010-11, the City Council approved $7.2 million in General Obligation (G.O.) Bond funding for the creation and retention of affordable rental housing, of which  $1.775 million was  allocated to fund permanent supportive housing. Of those proposed, the following applicants have identified serving PSH sub-populations in the City’s Strategy presented to Council on September 30, 2010.

  • Foundation Communities, Arbor Terrace (Suburban Lodge SRO), 25 PSH units
  • Green Doors, Treaty Oaks Apartments, 25 PSH units
  • Summit Housing Partners, Marshall Apartments, 20 PSH units

FY2011-12 applications for funding opened on October 1, 2011 and will be awarded during the first quarter of 2012. NHCD has also created a staff position dedicated to supporting the Permanent Supportive Housing initiative.