What Is PSH?
Permanent supportive housing has abruptly emerged as a controversial topic over the last few months, as the city seeks to create affordable housing programs and address homelessness and its related revenue drains. Similar to the national "housing first" movement, the idea behind PSH is that to address the issues keeping people on the street, comprehensive, "wraparound" social services should be offered and will be far more effective if their recipients actually have roofs over their heads. The issue took on greater urgency this past spring, when City Council passed a resolution urging the creation of 350 PSH units in four years.
Candidates for PSH can come in many shapes and sizes. The city has sought to emphasize the most benign users: women and families fleeing domestic violence and youth aging out of foster care, for instance. But PSH also could be available to the chronically homeless and to those whose instability is increased by drug and alcohol dependency. The various subpopulations the city seeks to serve (some overlapping) also include unaccompanied youth, individuals with severe and persistent mental illness, and homeless veterans. Of the 350 PSH households, at least 225 should be "frequent users of public systems" (courts, hospitals, jails, etc.), and 75 should be deemed "vulnerable" to housing instability, according to the city's PSH strategy.
While 350 units may sound like a lot, it's only a fraction of the estimated 1,889 units needed.