Greatest Needs to Decrease Street Homelessness on LI: Removing Barriers
Increasing Housing-Focused Street Outreach:
The majority of outreach, formal and informal, that is currently assisting people on the street are primarily or solely focused on meeting immediate needs such as food. While first addressing immediate needs and keeping people alive is the most important immediate action, without specific efforts and focuses to remove barriers to accessing permanent housing and connecting people to permanent housing programs, people will remain homeless. The solution to homelessness is permanent housing.
LICH operates a housing-focused street outreach team in both counties that leverages other supports to meet immediate needs, such as partnering with food outreach/drop-in centers, medical outreach and mobile care management, and focuses their work specifically on permanent housing placements. LICH can provide trainings on this approach upon request.
Creating More Low Barrier Shelter:
In almost all cases, people living on the street are aware of the shelter options that are available. Those that are not US citizens are not eligible for any year-round shelter on Long Island. There are also many other factors that contribute to an increasing number of people living outside instead of in shelters. A lot of those factors have to do with the lack of options that work for people, and other requirements such as shelter payments that can cost someone much more than 50% of their total income. As you can imagine, it can be challenging to convince someone of the benefits of going somewhere that they are not comfortable going, and having that cost them almost all of their limited income that they use to survive. Low barrier shelters on Long Island do exist, such as faith-based winter shelter programs like Maureen's Haven and HIHI, but the demand for shelter alternatives is year-round and far exceeds what is available, when in Suffolk County, for example, as many as 1 out of 3 single adults is living outside as opposed to in shelter, a percentage that continues to grow. Low barrier shelters need to create welcoming and supportive environments that are not managed from an authoritarian perspective. Shelters need to work for people and people need options so that they can determine what works best for them.
Increasing Low Barrier/Housing First Permanent Supportive Housing:
In almost all cases, those that are the most in need of permanent supportive housing, are the ones that cannot access it. This is because of the requirements in place in order for people to obtain housing, from lengthy applications and documentation, to sobriety, to income, to additional barriers from histories of eviction and/or criminal charges. Despite all CoC-funded permanent housing using a Housing First model, Housing First is not widely supported by communities, landlords, and even within the non-profit sector. In order to best address homelessness, which means housing the people most in need first, housing must be accessible to more people that need it most. For example, on Long Island, over 75% of all permanent supportive housing is for Veterans, people with severe and persistent mental illness that are approved through SPA, and people with HIV/AIDS. To demonstrate the misalignment of housing resources compared to the need, less than 5% of people experiencing homelessness are eligible for more than 75% of the permanent housing stock.
Better Assisting those without US Citizenship Status:
Within the street homeless population on Long Island, as many as 1 in 3, or more in some areas, people are not US citizens. Not only does this population have no year-round shelter options, but there are additional language, cultural and trust barriers. Many within these group may only experience intermittent street homelessness when they are not able to pick up work while others are long-term homeless on the street. Programs that can specifically seek to connect those seeking work to work opportunities can exit more people out of homelessness as a result. There is a significant need for groups that target to serve and have a strong understanding of immigrant laws and resources for this population.
More Low Barrier Housing Options for People Experiencing Homelessness and Mental Health and/or Active Substance Use Issues:
Most housing programs for people experiencing mental health and/or substance use issues require that people are either diagnosed and in treatment and/or sober. When someone is in survival mode and experiencing ongoing trauma, it is highly unrealistic to think that they can simultaneously work on their mental health and/or substance use, even if they had access to those resources. While sober housing and other programs are environments that are beneficial to some that are in the process of recovery or stabilization, it's much less likely to be a resource for people that are experiencing homelessness, particularly if they are on the street. With the Coordinated Entry System, there are street outreach workers and housing navigators working with people in shelters to ensure connections to CoC housing, however other referrals systems do not have these types of outreach resources in place to reach the people that need it most and it is often those with more resources or savvy enough to access resources on their own that get them. This has also contributed to ongoing racial disparities within the homeless system.
Greatest Needs to Decrease Shelter Homelessness on LI: Creating More Pathways out of Shelter
For families in shelter, rapid rehousing has been shown to be effective to exit households faster than they would have exited shelter on their own and over 85% of those households retain their housing. That is because it specifically can provide things that are often the greatest barriers for people to exit, such as not being able to save up enough money for deposits, broker fees and moving costs; or the challenges of locating local units in a competitive market and dealing with ongoing housing discrimination that could have led to someone becoming homeless from eviction and remaining homeless because they are denied rentals; or rental assistance to cover bills at first so that people have the time to start to try and recover from their trauma, and build up their income to pay for housing on their own. CoC-funded RRH has proven to be more effective than ESG-funded RRH locally because more funds are put towards support services and housing search staff, and the rental amounts can go above FMR.
Perhaps the greatest resource to exit people out of homelessness is a housing voucher. It allows people with disabilities or that are low income to stay in their community, and can end the cycle of poverty and/or homelessness. With over 20 Public Housing Authorities on Long Island, none of them prioritize their vouchers for people experiencing literal homelessness. You would think common sense would say who needs housing more than people that do not have it? The more vouchers that can be made available for people experiencing homelessness, the more people that can exit homelessness and remain housed. Voucher programs and other rental assistance programs also will need to be more in the way of enticing landlords to work with the programs, as a voucher is only useful if it can be attached to a unit.
A large percentage of singe adults residing in shelter became homeless as result of being released from jails or prisons. This population will likely face many more barriers to finding employment, housing and other necessary resources to live independently. A rapid rehousing or other permanent housing resources for this population could significantly reduce the shelter population amongst single adults.
Re-Thinking Private Motels and Adding Housing Focused Support Services:
The use of private motels is available in one of the two counties within the CoC, and serves as both capacity when shelter beds are not available and also to better meet reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. While in terms of shelter access, this is a great thing for people in the community, it ends up creating a long-term challenge. People that reside in motels do not have any case management supports to exit homelessness. People that reside in motels remain homeless more than 2.5xs as long as people in shelter. Hundreds of people are currently in motels and have been in those motels for several years, some more than five years. For single adults, almost all permanent housing stock, whether it be permanent supportive housing or within the private rental market on their budgets will not likely afford them any living situation where they will have their own private unit. It is extremely difficult to move anyone in that situation out of a motel, and many may live out there lives there. Families in motels also experience homelessness longer. In both cases, the viable resource may be housing vouchers. While a small number may exit with EHV, it's a small number, others have turned down the voucher opportunity, and EHV is a one-time limited option. More support services in the form of housing focused case management and vouchers and other housing resources need to made available to address this need. As it stands, motel placements have become long-term housing situations for aging adults, people with disabilities and families.
Greatest Needs to Limit the Amount of People that Become Homeless in the First Place: Using a Targeted Approach and Diversion
Eviction does equal homelessness. In fact, most evictions do not lead to homelessness, but it does in some cases. Local data suggests that there are key factors that make it more or less likely that someone end up homeless after becoming evicted or experiencing housing instability.
Evictions that lead to homelessness are significantly more likely for people that have been homeless before, for People of Color, and for people that lack support systems. While homeless prevention services can benefit so many Long Islanders, it is often those that need it the most that are not prevented from becoming homeless and those that likely would have not become homeless that do. Because of this, limited resources need to be targeted to those most likely to enter homelessness, while problem-solving and diversion supports are offered to others. Specifically targeting homeless prevention to families that have been homeless before and single adults exiting jails/prisons would have the greatest potential impact to decrease shelter inflow.
The way that resources and information get to different people, in different communities can also increase the likelihood that people become homeless, if they could have been assisted but were unaware that those programs existed.
DSS, as the local access points for almost all shelters, could decrease the number of people entering homelessness by creating a front door, that starts with diversion and prevention for every person before they enter shelter as a last resort. This goes beyond providing resources, but helping people problem-solve, navigate resources, and come up with temporary solutions while creating longer-term plans for housing.
Greatest Unmet Needs by Funding Source (eligible program types/activities):
#1 Nassau County Broad Spectrum PSH for Single Adults
#2 Nassau County Broad Spectrum PSH for Families
#3 Suffolk County Broad Spectrum PSH for Single Adults
#4 Suffolk County Broad Spectrum PSH for Families
#5 Nassau County RRH for Families
#6 Nassau County RRH for Single Adults
#7 Suffolk County RRH for Single Adults
While Suffolk County has a higher overall homeless population, those that experience homelessness in Nassau County remain homeless, on average, significantly longer. Out of all families and single adults in shelter, about 2 out of 3 reside in shelter/motels in Nassau County. In Suffolk County, there is a significantly higher number of street homeless, many of which are chronically homeless and are almost always assessed as in need of PSH or other long-term care with supports such as nursing homes. The majority of the RRH waitlist for families are families that reside in Nassau County. Nassau County also has more single adult long-term stayers that are not disabled that could exit shelter faster with RRH. Within the single adult population shelter population in Nassau, there is a significant number of people that entered homelessness from jails and prisons. Within the single adult population on the street in Nassau, there is a significant number of people that are non-US citizens and not eligible for any year-round shelter. Many chronically homeless single adults on Long Island are not eligible for, or able to access any existing PSH other than broad spectrum PSH with a housing first approach. Most CH single adults have a diagnosed chronic health condition (non-HIV), are not Veterans, and do not qualify for housing through SPA. This removes the vast majority of PSH opportunities available locally. Others that do qualify for SPA housing have been or are likely to be screened out of housing, or it be determined that they need to a "higher level of care." Most single adults in that situation remain homeless on the street.
Homelessness overall on Long Island is down more than 20% in the last five years, with decreases mostly in family households, where single adult homelessness has remained steady or increased from year to year during recent time. The number of Veterans remains very low (less than 3% of total homeless). The number of unaccompanied youth remains very low (less than 2% of total homeless). The number of parenting youth makes up closer to 5%.
Agencies Currently Receiving CoC Funding:
Association for Mental Health and Wellness - Suffolk- PSH for CH Single Males
Brighter Tomorrows, Inc.- Suffolk- 1 DV RRH and 1 DV TH-RRH
Catholic Charities Diocese of Rockville Centre- Nassau/Suffolk- 2 PSH for CH Single Adults and Families
Circulo de la Hispanidad- Nassau- PSH for CH Single Adults and Families, 1 DV RRH, 1 DV TH-RRH
Concern for Independent Living, Inc.- Suffolk- 3 PSH for CH Single Adults and Families- SPA
Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, Inc.- Suffolk- 2 RRH- families and single adults
Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc.- Nassau/Suffolk- Suffolk PSH CH Singles and Families, 1 Nassau PSH CH Single Adults
Family Service League, Inc.- Suffolk- RRH- families and single adults
H.E.L.P. Equity Homes, Inc.- Nassau- PSH CH Families
Hope For Youth- new as of 2021* Suffolk- Youth TH-RRH
Long Island Coalition for the Homeless- Nassau/Suffolk- CE program- adults/families, HMIS program, regional planning
Mental Health Association of Nassau County, Inc. - Nassau- PSH for CH Single Adults
Options for Community Living, Inc.- Nassau- PSH for CH families/single adults, PSH for CH families/single adults- MH, RRH for families and single adults
Services for the UnderServed, Inc.- Nassau/Suffolk- RRH for families/single adults
South shore Association for Independent Living, Inc. - Nassau- PSH for CH Single Adults- SPA
Suburban Housing Development & Research, Inc- Suffolk- PSH for CH Families
The Safe Center LI, INC.- Nassau- DV RRH, DV CE
Transitional Services of New York for Long Island, Inc. - Suffolk- PSH for CH Single Adults- SPA
United Veterans Beacon House, Inc.- Suffolk- PSH for CH Single Adults, PSH for CH Single Adults/Families
VIBS Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk- new as of 2021*- Suffolk- DV RRH
ESG- Nassau County:
#1 NEW (not existing) Emergency Shelter (to reduce motel stayers and provide support services to more people)
#2 Low Barrier Emergency Shelter (non-DSS, low eligibility thresholds including citizenship status)
#3 Targeted Homeless Prevention/Diversion- Families with Prior Homelessness and Re-Entry
#4 Housing Focused Street Outreach
#5 RRH for Single Adults
Most of the longest-term stayers in Nassau County reside in motels with no on site support and minimal overall case management. There is a growing percentage of single adults on the street that are not US citizens and have no year-round shelter options. As the average household that does enter homelessness in Nassau remains homeless for greater than one year, preventing those most likely to become homeless is even more critical, particularly families that have been homeless before and single adults entering shelter from jails/prisons. With single adult homelessness continuing to rise, across the board, more options to help people exit will be necessary, rather than mostly relying on scarce PSH turnover units and exits without a program.
ESG- Suffolk County:
#1 Low Barrier Emergency Shelter (non-DSS, low eligibility thresholds)
#2 Housing Focused Street Outreach
#3 Targeted Homeless Prevention/Diversion- Families with Prior Homelessness
#4 RRH for Single Adults
Most of the longest-term stayers in Suffolk County are single adults that reside on the street. In order to move that population into housing, it will take a combination of housing-focused street outreach, shelter options other than through DSS, and more PSH that uses a housing first approach. Homeless prevention targeted to families that have been homeless in the past would have the greatest impact on reducing shelter inflow. With single adult homelessness continuing to rise, across the board, more options to help people exit will be necessary, rather than mostly relying on scarce PSH turnover units and exits without a program.
Agencies that received ESG-CV Funds:
Emergency Shelter HUD:ESG - CV
Bethany House - Bethany One - Nassau DSS
Bethany House - Bethany South - Nassau DSS
Eager To Serve - Sunshine Residence - Nassau DSS
FCA - Nassau Haven - Housing
FSL - Family Shelter
FSL - Southshore Shelter
Glory House Recovery - Glory House - Nassau DSS
Glory House Recovery - Men's Shelter - Nassau DSS
GOPI - GOPI House - Nassau DSS
Hope House Ministries - Pax Christi Hospitality Center
INN - Donald Axinn INN - Nassau DSS
INN - Edna Moran INN - Nassau DSS
INN - Journey Program - ESG-CV ES - Nassau County
MOMMAS House - Emergency Shelter - Nassau DSS
Nassau DSS - CHI - Cornell St - 192
Nassau DSS - CHI - Cornell St - 196
Nassau DSS - CHI - Jerusalem Ave
Nassau DSS - Other Motel
Peace Valley Haven - Emergency Shelter - Nassau DSS
UVBH - 133 Clinton
UVBH - 515 Lenox
UVBH - Patchogue
UVBH - 456 Taylor
Homelessness Prevention HUD:ESG - CV
ESG-CV HP - EOC - TOB
ESG-CV HP - Family Service League - TOB
ESG-CV HP - Family Service League - TOI
ESG-CV HP - Federation - TOB
ESG-CV HP - HELP-Project Anchor - NYS ESGCV - HP
ESG-CV HP - Options - ATC Nassau County
ESG-CV HP - Salvation Army - Nassau County
PH - Rapid Re-Housing HUD:ESG - CV
EmpowerLI - DV - RRH ESG-CV - TOB
EOC - ESG-CV RRH - TOB
EOC of Nassau County - ESG-CV RRH
FSL - ESG-CV - TOB - RRH
FSL - ESG-CV - TOI - RRH
LICH - ESG-CV RRH - TOB
Options - ATC ESG-CV Brookhaven
SUS - Nassau - ESG-CV - RRH
SUS - NYS - ESG CV - RRH
Street Outreach HUD:ESG - CVLICH - ESG-CV Street Outreach - Nassau County
LICH - ESG-CV Street Outreach - TOB
UVBH - ESG-CV Street Outreach - Nassau County
Transitional Housing HUD:ESG - CV
FCA - Walkabout for Young Men & Women - Housing
MOMMAS House - Transitional Housing