SNAPS In Focus: Moving On Strategies to Support Stable Transitions from Permanent Supportive Housing
Individuals and families with complex needs that become homeless, are often best served by Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), a housing and service-rich environment. Over time, as mental health, physical health, or other challenges lessen, the supportive service needs of PSH participants may be better met through mainstream services rather than the intensive supportive services provided in PSH. However, in many cases the need for financial housing assistance remains. HUD recognizes that helping these households move on to less service intensive permanent housing assistance is an important strategy that can be beneficial to the participants and communities working to end homelessness.
A Moving On strategy should support choice. Some PSH participants may want to live in a different neighborhood, move closer to family and friends, or seek housing in an area that is more convenient for work or educational opportunities. Alternatively, participants who live in a tenant-based PSH may wish to transition-in-place, using a Housing Choice Voucher or other tenant-based assistance to provide a housing subsidy. Both options allow participants to maintain stable housing without receiving intensive services.
In addition to being a positive change for participants who feel ready to make the transition from PSH, helping participants move to a less service intensive environment is a cost-effective strategy for communities. It frees up PSH resources for those who are currently experiencing homelessness and need the housing and the intensive services package. Aligning high-service oriented housing programs with mainstream, less service-intense housing assistance programs provides more options for households experiencing homelessness and creates flow in a community’s homeless response system.
Moving On principles to guide development and implementation:
- Transition is a voluntary process that PSH tenants choose.
- Collaboration of mainstream housing and services must be fostered.
- Connections to community-based supports are necessary for housing stability.
Tenants in PSH projects have all the rights of tenancy and can be a part of that program as long as they desire. Moving On is not about limiting those rights but about maximizing participant choice by offering options for those in PSH projects and promoting self-sufficiency for households currently living in PSH.
Moving On cannot happen without coordination and collaboration of mainstream housing and services. Partnerships with local public housing authorities, HUD-assisted multi-family housing, and affordable housing developers are essential for identifying and securing housing units for PSH tenants.
PSH participants who need continued housing subsidies can be connected to a variety of housing resources, including:
- HUD-assisted multifamily housing projects
- Public Housing
- Housing Choice Vouchers, including Mainstream vouchers
- Affordable housing within a community
- Affordable senior housing or next level care
The broader the array of options created, the greater the ability for PSH tenants to find their preferred housing option.
Transition can be difficult, and tenants should not be left to navigate it alone. Engagement in community-based services, including employment supports, behavioral health, and community health, is essential. Services need to follow tenants for a period of time to ensure that engagement provides the housing stability that a person needs.
HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS) supports communities developing and implementing Moving On as part of local responses to homelessness. HUD realizes that Moving On is not a new concept and that some communities have had Moving On initiatives for years. HUD has begun rolling out a Moving On Technical Assistance initiative and will continue rolling out elements of that initiative over the next two years. To build a Moving On framework, community readiness is important and includes:
- Political leadership, Continuum of Care (CoC) leadership, Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), HUD multi-family owners and operators, mainstream affordable housing developers, and PSH providers understanding and committing to the Moving On strategy
- Having connections with mainstream community-based service providers who provide services to participants transitioning from PSH
- PSH providers having experience in transitioning tenants to other mainstream resources
- Coordinated entry systems effectively making referrals into PSH with the most vulnerable prioritized for PSH
These are some of the core aspects communities should begin to assess as they take steps towards having Moving On as part of their local homeless system.
The SNAPS Office will provide resources and tools to support communities in this work, which will be highlighted on the Moving On resources page on HUD Exchange. The first two resources that are available are tools to help communities create a project plan for implementing a Moving On strategy and a resource assessment tool to look at what affordable housing options are available in communities that may be destinations for participants who are moving on. In the coming months, HUD will also provide resource guides for PHAs and lessons learned from communities who have successful Moving On strategies.
Moving On is not just a strategy but a system framework that recognizes that PSH is not necessarily the end point for people currently residing in PSH programs. This framework supports tenant choice, success, and mobility. Moving On also increases the capacity of homeless systems by creating availability in existing PSH units and ensures that PSH is used to serve the most vulnerable individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Aligned with Home, Together: the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, we are committed to working with public and private partners to make homelessness rare, brief, and one-time. HUD encourages any and all steps to begin to maximize the effectiveness of existing resources within the homeless system and provide opportunities for those engaged in the system to reach their highest potential.
Norm Suchar, Caroline Crouse, and Caitlin Morath
Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs