Empowered By Orange County United Way

Scattered Site Permanent Supportive Housing as an Effective Solution to End Homelessness

Scattered Site Permanent Supportive Housing, a critical element in any community’s fight against homelessness, places homeless individuals in private market apartments scattered throughout a city or county. Rents are paid through government-issued rental assistance vouchers. Mobile and site-based supportive services and case management are also provided to help formerly homeless renters remain stably housed while getting the help they need.

The Benefits of Scattered Site Permanent Supportive Housing

One of the many benefits of scattered-site housing is that formerly homeless tenants have access to neighbors with diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic classes, helping them integrate into their new communities — an important factor in their remaining housed. Equally important factors include a variety of apartment types and sizes from which prospective tenants can choose that best fit their unique needs, along with factors such as close proximity to their employers, families, or places of worship.

How Do We Know That Scattered Site Supportive Housing Works?

We can see that scattered site supportive housing is a viable solution to decreasing the overall percentage of homelessness by studying examples from cities and counties where it’s been incorporated.

Brilliant Corners, a non-profit supportive housing agency serving those with developmental disabilities and individuals transitioning from homelessness in the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles County, provides an excellent example of a scattered site housing system.

The organization and partner agencies work together to design scattered-site housing programs for those who need it most, including homeless veterans and those who are homeless with a disability.

Jacksonville, Florida has also seen success with its scattered-site housing programs. Ability Housing led an implementation of their Duval County pilot program, a project which included 92 units of permanent supportive housing, comprised of 49 units scattered throughout Jacksonville and 43 units at Village on Wiley.

In Houston, Texas, a project in which $102.4 million was invested over a three year period brought 2,500 units of scattered site PSH housing online throughout the city of Houston. This resulted in a 70 percent reduction in chronic homelessness and a 50 percent reduction in the overall homeless population.

Scattered Site Supportive Housing Can Make an Immediate Impact in Orange County

We welcome Orange County’s plan to build 2,700 new permanent supportive housing units to address our great need here in our community. But due to the extensive time frame associated with locating, obtaining entitlements and constructing new housing in California, scattered-site supportive housing units in existing apartments is seen as a crucial tool to address homelessness right away.

When Helene Schneider, Regional Coordinator at the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), visited Orange County to participate in a Property Owners Summit hosted by United to End Homelessness, she stressed the importance of addressing the immediate need for permanent supportive housing in scattered-site private market units.

“Building more permanent supportive housing is a great solution but it takes more time. Property owners are the lynchpin that can make this happen quickly, and get units online now,” explained Schneider.

Scattered-site supportive housing is gaining ground in Orange County. A significant increase for homelessness assistance funds awarded to various scattered site PSH organizations is evident from the 2017 and 2018 HUD Grant Reports. This suggests that more is being invested towards property owners on providing this form of housing with supportive services and case management.

“We can do this right away,” said Lisa Bartlett, chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, at the Summit. “We’ve got the money ready to go and people to put in permanent supportive housing. We just need the units to house them.”

Those interested in learning more about efforts to place Orange County homeless individuals in scattered-site supportive housing can find more information here.