Homeless and formerly homeless individuals with multiple barriers to employment are not commonly well-served by employment and training programs or by the vocational rehabilitation system. State vocational rehabilitation agencies demand that applicants for services must have a permanent living address, a policy based upon the assumption that stable housing is a prerequisite for successful employment. Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) entry and outcome expectations for participants frequently exceed what individuals with multiple barriers to work can achieve in the time frames required. The current Welfare to Work opportunities to engage Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) in the work force include neither help for individuals with disabilities receiving Social Security benefits nor single adults without children. In sum, formerly homeless and homeless individuals with chronic debilitating health conditions, incomes below poverty, low levels of education, and poor or inconsistent work histories are left out. Significant proportions of this population are the long-term shelter stayers and tenants of supportive housing.
Supportive housing is a solution to homelessness, since it offers those who become tenants a permanent, affordable home with onsite social and employment services. Tenants, once stabilized in supportive housing, want to work. As federal, state and local policies are directed to decrease reliance on public entitlements, tenants and their supportive housing landlords have an obvious shared interest in making available vocational services that result in employment outcomes.
A National Initiative: Supportive Housing-Based Employment Services
In just over 2 years, 1,000 jobs were filled by tenants of supportive housing as part of the Corporation for Supportive Housing's "Next Step: Jobs" employment initiative. This outcome lends credence to the claim that, when given the necessary training, social and rehabilitation support services and the opportunity of employment, individuals with multiple barriers to employment can work. Supportive housing offers the basic, critical ingredients and a stable platform for positive vocational outcomes. These ingredients include continuous case management services, permanent housing and a culture that is supportive of working tenants. Three years ago, the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) established an employment initiative with 21 nonprofit supportive housing providers, employers, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, and tenants to increase employment among individuals in supportive housing in Chicago, New York and the San Francisco Bay Area. Next Step: Jobs is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation; also, in 1996 the Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. Department of Education, awarded CSH funding to create linkages between the supportive housing and vocational rehabilitation systems in New York City.
The Corporation for Supportive Housing is a national intermediary established in 1991 by three of America's largest foundations to increase the supply and quality of supportive housing in the United States. Supportive housing is a new type of living environment for people with special needs that promotes individual independence while providing a safety net of support services so tenants can reintegrate into mainstream society. As the only national intermediary organization with an exclusive focus on the supportive housing industry, CSH weaves the different funding streams, disciplines and bureaucratic worlds of housing and...