One of the most effective ways to help the homeless is by providing permanent supportive housing, which addresses the basic need for housing while offering connections with ongoing supportive services. According to the State of Homelessness in America 2015, published by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a nationwide shift toward offering this type of housing and other “housing first” interventions began in 2013.
Broward County is well ahead of the curve. Broward Housing Solutions has been providing permanent supportive housing for more than 20 years. Founded in 1993, the organization now houses 309 residents in 185 apartments across Broward County. Eighty-one percent of Broward Housing Solutions’ residents are formerly homeless, and 100 percent have been diagnosed with mental illness.
With a 91-percent tenant approval rating, Broward Housing Solutions’ success hinges on effective community collaboration. Mental-health organizations, such as Henderson Behavioral Health, Broward County Elderly and Veteran Services and Archways offer support services to ensure resident stability while Broward Housing Solutions provides safe, affordable housing. Rents are offered an average of $225 a month. Meanwhile, the number of poor renter households that must pay more than 50 percent of their income toward housing are at historic highs across the nation, according to the report.
Given these facts, it’s time for our decision makers, leaders and the entire community to commit to bringing more permanent supportive housing to Broward County.
Lisa A. Vecchi, CEO, Broward Housing Solutions, Fort Lauderdale