Supportive Housing Options in NYC, Part 1
(Column: Ask the Housing Experts)
Lauren Bholai-Pareti, Executive Director, Council on Homeless Policies and Services & Daniel J. Stern, Housing Consultant, Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS)
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Over the past 20 years, supportive housing has helped tens of thousands of New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities live stable, independent and dignified lives in the community. New York City currently offers a well-developed continuum of supportive housing options for people over 18 years of age with psychiatric disabilities. While all supportive housing provides on-site social services, the level of support offered varies by model. This article describes the different models of supportive housing in New York City and the kinds of supports each model offers. While these descriptions can provide a useful framework for selecting a housing model that will best serve the needs and preferences of an individual, it is important to remember that, in practice, a particular residence may differ from its model type as described below.

A Supervised Community Residence (Super CR) is usually a single building housing 10 to 24 residents. They are licensed by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) and run by not-for-profit agencies. Supervised CRs are exclusively for people with mental illness and provide the most structured level of care in community residence settings. They are transitional programs (residents stay 18 to 24 months on average). Rooms may be either single or shared. Bathrooms are generally shared. Staffing is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some Supervised CRs provide communal meals for residents; others have communal cooking facilities. Services typically include counseling, activities of daily living (ADL), skill development, case management, and medication management. Attendance in a structured day activity, like a psychiatric day program, is required (20-30 hours per week). Participation in community meetings and other activities is usually required. Rent/services payment is SSI Level II.

MICA Community Residences (MICA CR) are usually located in a single building housing from 10-24 residents. MICA CRs generally provide the same structure and intensity of services as a Supervised Community Residence (above). They are licensed by OMH and run by non-profit agencies. MICA CRs work exclusively with individuals who have a primary diagnosis of mental illness and a secondary diagnosis of chemical addiction. Applicants must complete a detox program before entering the residence. Residents must agree to be substance free while in the program. They are transitional programs (residents stay 18 to 24 months on average). Staffing is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some programs have a 30-day orientation period for new residents during which the resident may not leave the building unescorted. Some MICA CRs provide communal meals; others have cooking facilities available for residents to prepare their own meals. Attendance in a day program is required, usually a program which focuses on both substance abuse and mental health issues. Services typically include counseling, ADL skill development, case management, medication management and transitional employment. Payment for rent and services is SSI Level II.

ATPs (ATP) are generally shared apartments in the community housing from two to four residents; a few are single-site residences with apartments in one building. They are transitional programs (residents stay 18 to 24 months on average). They are licensed by OMH and run by not-for-profit agencies. ATPs are exclusively for people with mental illness, and provide an intermediate level of care in the community residence system. Residents are visited by staff from one to seven times per week, depending on length of time in the program and individual need. Residents often have their own bedroom; occasionally larger rooms are shared and they generally do their own cooking and other household chores such as shopping, cleaning and laundry. Services typically include counseling, ADL skill development, case management, crisis intervention, and medication management. Attendance in a structured day activity (20-30 hours per week) is required. Participation in community meetings and other activities is usually required. Rent/services payment is SSI Level II. In addition to the personal needs allowance (PNA), residents receive a stipend for food and cleaning supplies.

Single Room Occupancy Community Residences (SRO/CR) offer extended-stay housing exclusively for people with mental illness. Extended-stay means, while the housing is not considered permanent, no specific limits are placed on length of stay. These residences are licensed by OMH, and are conceptualized as an integration of a Community Residence and a Supportive Single Room Occupancy.
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