Friday, June 18, 2010

How Should the Government Provide Services to the Homeless, Seniors and Others in Need?

This summer, NHC and the Center for Housing Policy are leading an open, collaborative project to provide recommendations to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on their role in providing supportive services for the homeless, families and seniors. HUD is obviously a key player in providing housing to people in need. However, these people often need broader support – like substance abuse or day care to ensure positive outcomes. It is an open question what role the Department should play in providing these other services.

Yesterday, a diverse group of advocates and practitioners came together at NHC’s offices to discuss the recommendations NHC will provide to HUD later this summer. 

Paul Weech, senior vice president for policy at Stewards for Affordable Housing for the Future and the Housing Partnership Network chaired the collaborative meeting. The group agreed that a variety of approaches are needed to service various demographic groups, though a coordinated community approach is best.  

Many thought HUD should only support service coordination, not provide services – a responsibility they thought should fall to the Department of Health and Human Services. Every proposed solution hangs on the question of “who pays?” 

The discussion led to many thought-provoking questions:

•    How can HUD integrate existing community services into subsidized housing?
•    Should affordable housing developers stay focused on housing and not provide services in areas they don’t specialize in?
•    Can HUD afford to stop providing certain support, when no other agency has the capacity to take it on?
•    How do you continue to provide services to residents whose needs change as they age in place?
•    Are more intensive services needed for the chronically homeless?

The forum followed two similar NHC and Center forums in Los Angeles and New York City. If you’d like to have your thoughts on any these issues incorporated into NHC and the Center’s upcoming report to HUD, please email Senior Fellow, Rick Haughey.

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