Supportive Housing Options in NYC, Part 2
(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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Single Room Occupancy Community Residences (SRO/CRs) are operated by nonprofit agencies and are not licensed to provide more than 100 beds. Residents usually have their own bedroom and share bathrooms. Some SRO/CRs have efficiency apartments. Most SRO/CRs have a central kitchen, and/or additional kitchenettes. SRO/CRs are designed to offer a variety of flexible services. New York State residents who have mental illness and have a history of homelessness can be certified as NY/NY eligible. To be NY/NY eligible, most people have to spend 14 days in any shelter over the course of two months. Another way to meet the homeless criteria is if someone is known to reside on the streets, in the parks, on the subways or other public areas. This typically requires documentation from an outreach team, local beat cop, social worker or area merchant. If you live in a place that may or may not be a shelter you have to ask the director of your program whether your residence counts as a shelter. Almost all SRO/CRs require NY/NY eligibility. Services include ADL (activities of daily living) assistance and training, money management, case management, crisis intervention and medication management. Twenty-four-hour staff coverage is also provided. Generally, some meals are offered for a nominal fee and tenants are also taught cooking skills. SRO/CRs provide on-site laundry facilities. Residents are not required to participate in any type of structured day program. Rent/services payment is SSI Level II. In addition to the PNA, which is the personal needs allowance-the portion of the government check consumers can keep-residents of SRO/CRs receive approximately $300 per month to cover the cost of meals and other expenses.

Supportive Single Room Occupancy Residences (Supportive SRO) provide permanent housing in a single room occupancy building where tenants receive leases. They are owned and operated by nonprofit organizations. The Department of Mental Health (DMH), Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA formerly DASIS) fund most of the supportive on-site mental health and social services. Some Supportive SROs exclusively house people with mental illness, while others have a mixed tenancy comprised of low-income people, including people with substance abuse problems, AIDS or mental illness. Generally, the residences must take a certain percentage of their tenancy from people who have been in the NYC shelter system; almost all mental health units in Supportive SROs require NY/NY eligibility. Most residences also have units targeted to low-income community residents and people who are defined as "housing needy" by DHS. All residents have their own bedrooms and often bathrooms are shared. Some Supportive SROs have shared cooking facilities while others offer low cost prepared meals on-site. Increasingly, many of the SROs offer tenants a studio apartment complete with kitchen and bath. Mental health and other social services including case management, medication monitoring, groups, ADL skill building, and transitional employment programs are usually provided on-site. Most Supportive SROs have a part-time consulting psychiatrist. Residents are encouraged, but not required to attend a day program or on-site activities. Rent/services payment is SSI Level I (Community). Residents on SSI generally pay between $200 and $250 per month rent and those on Public Assistance (PA) pay the shelter allowance.

Supported Housing generally consists of single, sometimes shared, apartments that house one to three residents. Apartments are usually scattered throughout the community, but may be located all together in one building. The housing is permanent and residents receive leases. These programs are run by not-for-profit agencies that are subsidized by OMH or NYC DMH. The apartments are exclusively for people with mental illness. Some can accommodate families as long as one adult member has a mental illness. Case management services are available as requested by the tenant and may be either on or off-site. Tenants should be able to function with minimal assistance from staff. There is no day program requirement although it is expected that tenants will be involved in some meaningful activity. Residents pay 30% of their income for rent and services. Residents on SSI receive the Level I community rate. People receiving PA pay the shelter allowance. Residential Care Centers for Adults (RCCA) are extended-stay facilities housing approximately 50-150 residents. They are exclusively for people with mental illness. RCCAs provide a high level of structure and routine for residents. Rooms may be either single or double and bathrooms are shared. RCCAs are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Three meals a day and on-site nursing coverage are usually provided. Residents are not required to participate in a day treatment program; however, it is strongly encouraged. Case management, counseling and recreational services are offered. Assistance and training in activities of daily living is provided. Rent/services payment is SSI Level II.

An Adult Home or Private Proprietary Home for Adults (PPHA) is a permanent residence that can house anywhere from 50 to more than 400 people. Usually, the adult homes serve a mixed population that includes people who are elderly, medically ill and who have mental illness. Adult Homes are licensed by the NYS Department of Health and the majority are operated as for-profit businesses. Although some adult homes will accept applicants as young as 18, the average age tends to be much older. Twenty-four-hour staff coverage is provided. Many adult homes have on-site mental health services for those residents who may have emotional or psychiatric problems. A resident can expect to have one roommate who shares a bathroom. Three meals a day are provided, as are laundry and housekeeping services. Medication supervision is also provided. Recreational activities are offered on-site (bingo, crafts, movies, outings, etc.). Some Adult Homes offer Assisted Living programs with extra personal care services. Residents are not required to attend a day program. SSI or PA Level II is accepted as rent/services payment. In most cases, the resident's check is mailed to the manager of the adult home, who takes out money for rent, food, laundry, and other services. The remaining money belongs to the resident and is usually given back at the first of the month.

Residences for Adults (RFA) are licensed as not-for-profit Adult Homes by the New York State Department of Health, and are conceptualized as an integration of an Adult Home and a Supportive SRO. The housing is permanent. Residences for Adults serve a mixed population including people with medical disabilities and mental illness. While the physical set-up is comparable to a Supportive SRO, some services provided (e.g., housekeeping, linen and meal services) are similar to the Adult Home model. While most rooms are single, some are double. Bathrooms are shared, and meals are provided in a communal dining room. Twenty-four-hour staff coverage is provided. Recreational activities, group and individual counseling and medication management are offered on-site. Participation in a day program is not required; however, it is strongly encouraged. RFA residents are expected to take care of their own personal hygiene needs (i.e., residents must be able to dress and bathe themselves). Payment for rent and services is SSI Level II.

Family Type Homes for Adults (Adult Foster Care) provide housing for up to four single adults with a foster family in the community. The NYS Department of Social Services licenses family homes. Length of stay is potentially unlimited. Adult Foster Care will accept people with mental illness, as well as individuals who are mentally retarded or who have medical problems. Rooms are either single or shared with another resident. Twenty-four-hour supervision is provided. Meals, laundry and housekeeping services are provided. Residents are encouraged, but not required to attend a day program. Adult Foster Care accepts both SSI Level I and PA as payment for rent and services.

For more information or for assistance with applying to mental health housing, call the Residential Placement Management System at the Center for Urban Community Services (212) 801-3333.
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