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Permanent Supportive Housing

Homelessness is a major problem facing Cambridge today. The 2019 Point In Time count found 555 individuals were experiencing homelessness in Cambridge in January of 2019 (HUD Exchange, 2020). Of those 555 people, 179 were experiencing chronic homelessness, meaning that they have experienced homelessness repeatedly or been homeless for over a year. Without safe and stable housing, people experiencing homelessness face reduced life expectancy, exposure to trauma, and barriers to seeking employment and health care.

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is a research-backed solution for chronic homelessness that pairs subsidized housing with case management and voluntary supportive services. Permanent Supportive Housing programs are not homeless shelters, psychiatric hospitals, medical clinics, or group homes; they are apartment buildings with partnerships that offer services like onsite meetings with social workers. Residents have leases and have their own apartments like residents of any other apartment building. They also have access to case management and resources to help with their physical and mental health needs.

PSH has been shown to decrease the rate of psychiatric hospitalization for participants and to increase housing stability (Raven et al., 2020). One NYC study found that over a period of 2 years, on average, people experiencing homelessness who were provided with permanent supportive housing spent 115 fewer days in shelters, 75 fewer days in psychiatric hospitals and almost 8 fewer days in prisons/jails than control groups (Culhane et al., 2002). Permanent supportive housing benefits residents, who see better health outcomes and housing stability. It also benefits taxpayers by lowering costs to the medical and criminal justice systems, and benefits communities by providing safe and stable housing for those most in need.

116 Norfolk is an excellent location for Permanent Supportive Housing because of its location in an amenity-rich area close to healthcare and social services, retail, groceries, and transportation connections. Currently, there is only one part-time resident services coordinator for 37 residents. After renovations, 116 Norfolk will have four full-time case managers for 62 residents. This dramatic increase in social services will provide necessary support for current and future residents.

Works Cited

Culhane, Dennis P., et al. “Public Service Reductions Associated with Placement of Homeless Persons with Severe Mental Illness in Supportive Housing.” Housing Policy Debate, vol. 13, no. 1, 2002, pp. 107–163., doi:10.1080/10511482.2002.9521437.

"HUD 2019 Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Programs Homeless Populations and Subpopulations.” HUD Exchange, HUD, 2020,

Raven, Maria C., et al. “A Randomized Trial of Permanent Supportive Housing for Chronically Homeless Persons with High Use of Publicly Funded Services.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 25 Sept. 2020,