Many people exiting homelessness, particularly long-term homelessness, are working to overcome challenges to their mental and physical health. Permanent supportive housing combines affordable housing assistance with voluntary support services to address the needs of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. The combination of stable, affordable housing with wrap-around services increases the likelihood of success for people exiting homelessness; ensuring they have the stability to focus on their physical and mental wellbeing. The services are designed to build independent living and good tenancy skills, and to connect individuals with community-based health care, treatment, and employment services.

Implementing these services, and guiding clients through the transition from homelessness to housed, requires a skilled and compassionate person. At CCEH, our Housing Stability Specialist, Sierra Hubbard, works with up to 16 individuals through our Housing First Concord Program. The Housing First Concord Program works in partnership with Crossroads House in Portsmouth, NH, to provide a rental subsidy for individuals coming from long-term homelessness, as well as intensive, ongoing caseworker support to the participant to help with the transition to being stably housed, and to address other participant-driven goals as the client is ready.

Sierra goes above and beyond for her clients, as she explains with her client “Nate,” (name changed for privacy):

On February 1st, Nate moved into an apartment after experiencing homelessness for roughly four years. Nate’s first few days in the apartment were rocky–he struggled to control his substance use, his phone was shattered, and a visitor damaged a wall in his new home. Just a few days into his lease, Nate was nearly out of money, convinced he would be evicted, and he was ready to throw in the towel.

Instead, Nate hopped in my car and we drove to a food pantry where he was able to stock his kitchen cabinets. He picked up some donated housewares and bought a few necessities at Dollar Tree. CCEH staff wrote motivational messages on posterboard, and I hung it over the hole on the damaged wall, literally covering it up with positivity.

We didn’t ignore the problem, though. I explained the situation to Nate’s landlord and showed pictures of the damage, and they responded with compassion and kindness–which helped Nate feel safer in his space. 

CCEH always tries to discourage overnight guests, but exiting homelessness is a turbulent transition period, and it can be difficult for clients to maintain those boundaries when they’re otherwise very isolated. Transitioning from a life outdoors into a quiet apartment can be lonely, and loneliness can kick off a downward spiral that often leads to eviction. Nate and I had a conversation about guests and developed some strategies to encourage good guest behavior.

Since those first few days in the apartment, Nate has reconnected with his Riverbend case worker and resumed counseling sessions with his therapist. He’s rearranging his furniture, keeping his floors and countertops sparkling clean, talking about getting a plant–signs that he’s settling into his new home. I will continue to visit Nate three or four times a week, even if we don’t have any immediate case management needs. Sometimes, stopping by just to say hello can be powerful enough to lift someone back up.

Thanks in part to Sierra’s tireless efforts, CCEH boasts a 90% permanent supportive housing services success rate. Investments in permanent supportive housing nationwide have helped decrease the number of chronically homeless individuals by 8% since 2007 (as of the 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress). In addition to ending homelessness for people who are long-term homeless, research has demonstrated that permanent supportive housing has been shown to lower public costs associated with the use of crisis services such as shelters, hospitals, jails, and prisons.

To learn more about CCEH’s housing solutions, including our Housing First Concord program and our Paths Toward Housing Solutions, click here.

Would you like to help CCEH provide more permanent supportive housing solutions, and help more individuals like Nate become and stay stably housed? Please donate today!