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  • County tackling homelessness through Permanent Supportive Housing program

    Dec 14, 2018 | Read More News
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    File: transitional housingPima County continues to lead the way among Arizona jurisdictions in finding creative means to address chronic social problems with the implementation of the State’s first self-funded Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program, intended to develop long-term solutions to homelessness and reduce the number of homeless individuals among the Pima County Jail population.

    The County this sent out a call for non-profit groups interested in partnering in the PSH effort. The contract would pay $2.5 - $3 million over two years to agencies willing to provide housing to a minimum of 150 people. The deadline to apply is January 11. Applications may be made online.

    “The cost of this program will be more than made up by savings in other areas, such as in the health care system and lowering the costs associated with repeated incarcerations,” Program Manager Matt Pate said. “This is a great opportunity for us as we deal with these serious issues of homelessness and jail overcrowding.” 

    Homelessness, recidivism, and behavioral health issues often accompany one another and they are a significant problem in Pima County. Jail data show 517 homeless individuals were booked into the jail more than once during 2014. In addition, the Pima County Behavioral Health Department found 74 percent of those people had a history of mental illness or were had previously received behavioral health treatment.

    “In addition to making good economic sense, there is plenty of evidence demonstrating that this model is the most effective means of breaking the cycle of homelessness and addressing the factors that contribute to it,” said County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. “By pairing housing with case management and supportive services we believe most of these people will be able to lead more stable, more productive lives and that’s good for the whole community.”

    The Rand Corporation will serve as the project's third-party evaluator and the Corporation for Supportive Housing as technical advisor.

    There is good reason for optimism about taking a Permanent Supportive Housing approach to homelessness. Similar undertakings have had great success in other locations including Denver and Santa Clara County, California and Salt Lake City, which saw a 91% reduction in chronic homelessness after implementing a PSH model more than a decade ago.