Long-term Stayers/Chronically Homeless Priority
(Column: Ask the Housing Experts)
Some answers to commonly asked questions
Daniel J. Stern, Housing Consultant, Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS)
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This article should help to answer some of the common questions that you may have about the Chronically Homeless Priority (also known as Long-Term Stayers) initiative.

What does the term "long-term stayers" mean? Who would qualify as a long-term stayer?

Long term stayers are chronically homeless people. Specifically, the New York City Continuum of Care (CoC) has developed specific criteria to clearly specify who would qualify as a long-term stayer. Individuals in New York City must meet one of these criteria for chronic homelessness as defined by the CoC:

A person who has been in an emergency shelter or has a combination of street homelessness and emergency shelter days, greater than 730 days of the last four years, or
A chronically homeless family that includes at least one disabled adult and receives emergency shelter from New York City's Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD), the Human Resources Administration's HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HRA/HASA), HRA's Domestic Violence system or the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelter system for at least nine months of the prior fifteen months, or
A person or a family who has been street homeless for one year continuously

How many chronically homeless or long-term stayers are there?

In the last few years, research has shown that while the chronically homeless only comprise 17% of New York City's total homeless population, they use 50% of the available resources. In an effort to reduce chronic homelessness, New York City has prioritized this population of individuals and families for housing.

In New York City, the CoC oversees the planning and use of HUD-McKinney funds in NYC, including Shelter Plus Care, Supportive Housing Program (SHP), and Section 8 Mod Rehab SRO funds. Recently, the CoC decided to prioritize chronically homeless people in existing and new units. Many mental health housing providers receive one or more of these types of funds. With the start of this new initiative, those HUD-McKinney funded programs are now required to ultimately provide 25% of their beds for Long Term Stayers (LTS) and other chronically homeless people.

How will this new requirement impact the current mental health housing system?

Mental health housing providers who receive HUD McKinney funds now must insure that they house enough long-term stayers to meet their funding requirement. If you are familiar with the CUCS Vacancy and Information Update, you will have noticed that we now track and report which vacancies are set aside specifically for long-term stayers in order to serve this population.

There is also a new program called the Moving On Initiative, sponsored by Corporation for Supported Housing (CSH), which will help to address the needs of long-term stayers. This initiative has two major parts: (1) identifying long-term stayers in the HPD shelter system and helping them to transition into permanent supportive housing, and (2) helping formerly homeless people, who are currently living in permanent supportive housing programs and are interested in moving on to independent housing, to move beyond supported housing into their own apartments in the community. This initiative will, in turn, free up more supportive housing units for those identified long-term stayers, and help to "unclog" the system.

How will this initiative affect me, if I am applying for supportive housing?

As mental health housing providers work to house long-term stayers in their programs, a number of the vacancies they list in the Vacancy and Information Update are these set-aside units. Thus, a person who is designated as a long-term stayer receives priority for housing interviews, placement on wait lists, and placement into a housing program. However, for an individual who is not designated as a long term stayer, it may appear to be somewhat more challenging to find an available vacancy for which they can apply.
If you have further questions about Long Term Stayers, chronic homelessness, or need assistance in locating appropriate supportive housing, contact the CUCS Housing Resource Center at (212) 801-3333.
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