N.Y. State’s Permanent Housing Grants Offer Refuge for Vulnerable Homeless Population
New York State’s ESSHI permanent housing grants will add 6,000 housing units for homeless individuals with vulnerabilities such as mental health issues or substance abuse.
As part of New York State’s commitment to reducing its homelessness population, the state’s Office of Mental Health is working with the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI) Interagency Workgroup to offer permanent housing grants to vulnerable portions of the population.
ESSHI Permanent Housing Grants Use ‘Housing First’ Model
The grant, which awards up to $25,000 for each qualifying unit, is part of the state’s goal to increase the number of supportive housing options by 6,000 over the next five years. Studies have shown that a Housing First model, which prioritizes security over other needs, is the best stepping stone to addressing other needs, and helps prevent people from becoming homeless again.
Several areas of the U.S. have committed to a Housing First model, with success and improvement among the previously-homeless population served. The interactive map below from the National Alliance to End Homelessness indicates the costs savings and outcome of each study that utilized a Housing First model.
Round 3 of the ESSHI grant will provide 1,200 permanent housing options.
ESSHI Permanent Housing Grants Aim to Address NYC Homeless Shelter Issues
It was reported in 2016 that many of the 3,200 “cluster sites” used as overflow for New York City’s homeless shelters had racked up a considerable number of code violations while housing more than 11,000 men, women and children.
The ESSHI program has pledged to put 5,000 of the promised units in the city to care for the abundant homeless population, particularly as the cluster sites are phased out over the next few years, according to a 2017 statement made by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The cluster homeless shelter system is broken and represents the worst combination of expensive housing, bad conditions and poor access to services that homeless families need,” de Blasio said.
ESSHI Permanent Housing Grants are Unconditional
There are no entry barriers for individuals seeking permanent housing solutions; mental health issues or substance abuse are not factors that would prevent approval. Once housing has been established, appropriate support services should be provided to tenants, such as safety planning for domestic abuse victims, or treatment for addictions, though tenants are not required to be drug- or alcohol-free before or during their stay.
The grant is for permanent housing solutions; temporary or emergency units will not be available, as this program seeks to address the nomadic nature of the homeless population and provide a permanent home that will lead the way to addressing other needs.
The OMH and ESSHI are also working in conjunction with several other state agencies to address the vulnerable homeless population, including:
- Department of Health
- AIDS Institute
- New York State Homes and Community Renewal
- Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
- Office of Children and Family Services
- Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
- Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
- Office for People with Developmental Disabilities