Chronic Homelessness

Strengthening federal commitment – through an investment in permanent supportive housing programs – can end chronic homelessness.

Between 2007 and 2012, chronical homelessness declined 19.3 percent to 99,894 people. This decline was due – at least in part – to an increase in the amount of permanent supportive housing in the country.

Chronic homelessness is long-term or repeated homelessness of a person or family headed by a person with a disability. Many chronically homeless people have a serious mental illness like schizophrenia and/or alcohol or drug addiction.

The solution to chronic homelessness is permanent supportive housing along with policies to prevent homelessness for people with disabilities. These solution are cost-effective: a landmark study of homeless individuals with serious mental illness in New York City found that, on average, more than $23,000 was saved to publicly-funded systems for each constructed unit of permanent supportive housing.

Key federal programs to prevent and end chronic homelessness include:

  • HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants Programs;
  • Mainstream housing programs;
  • Services and income (including Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid); and
  • Mainstream systems, including mental health, health care, substance abuse treatment, criminal justice, and other community-based service programs.


Library Resources

Webinar | January 19, 2012
A video recording of the webinar entitled, "Putting the Pieces Together: Primary Care and Behavioral Health Services in Permanent Supportive Housing."
Federal Policy Brief | January 18, 2012
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a final regulation to implement changes to the definition of homelessness contained in the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act. The new definition is outlined here.
Webinar | May 6, 2011
Listen to a recording of Talking Medicaid, the May 4 webinar sponsored by the Alliance. The slide presentation is also available for downloading.
Fact Sheets | November 4, 2010
This resource describes the "point-in-time counts" - the regular count of people experiencing homelessness. The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires communities to submit these counts as part of their application for federal homeless assistance funds.
Solutions Brief | January 19, 2007
This two-page brief highlights three cities - New York, NY, Denver, CO, and Portland, OR - that have done studies of the cost effectiveness of providing supportive housing for homeless people with mental illness and/or addictions. The studies demonstrate that the cost of providing supportive housing is about the same or less than the cost of allowing them to remain homeless.