Housing support for homeless families with substance use disorders
January 26, 2012: Odyssey House has been selected by the New York State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) to receive $499,000 in annual funding to provide 20 permanent supportive housing apartments with case management and vocational services staff for families who were homeless when they entered an Odyssey House intensive residential facility, and are now scheduled to complete that course of treatment.
This innovative housing model will target chronically homeless families; families at serious risk of becoming chronically homeless; and other currently homeless families, in which the head-of-household has a substance use disorder.
The award was announced by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who called the initiative “another component of the New York/New York III Agreement that has brought together many State and City agencies and departments in a multi-year effort to address homelessness.”
Odyssey House has significant experience working with families in residential and outpatient treatment settings as well as supportive housing programs. At any one time up to 210 women and children live in specially equipped family accommodations in one of the organization’s treatment centers. The comprehensive services provided include: intensive substance abuse, mental health, and family counseling; medical and dental care; vocational, educational, legal, and housing support; and onsite licensed childcare services that include nurseries and early Head Start programs.
Dr. Peter Provet, President and CEO of Odyssey House welcomed the Governor’s support for families in treatment and added: “As our understanding of what it means to be in recovery evolves, and we develop programs that address the bio-psycho-social needs of families in treatment, the provision of safe, affordable housing is a key component of a holistic approach to treating substance abuse disorders.”
The continuum of family services offered by Odyssey House extends through intensive residential and structured outpatient programs to supervised, community-based, peer-led recovery services. The emphasis throughout the organization’s provision of services is to support individuals and families in making a healthy and sustainable transition to independent and productive lives. The programming goals for families eligible for permanent housing under this new award are to ensure housing stability in a safe and supportive environment; improve family functioning and stability; promote family health and wellness; and enable families to achieve the maximum possible recovery and integration into the community.
One of the biggest barriers to achieving a sustained recovery for many people who enter treatment at Odyssey House is where they will live following treatment. Almost 60 percent of residents are homeless upon admission. For homeless families where the parent (typically the mother, but Odyssey House also serves fathers who have custody of their children) is in need of residential treatment and it is determined to be in the best interests of the young children to keep the family unit together, entering a residential treatment program can disqualify the family for homeless services and jeopardize their chance to receive housing.
This innovative supportive housing program will help remove this barrier by allowing families in treatment, who meet the Department of Homeless Services criteria based on the family’s lodging history, to still qualify for subsidized permanent supportive housing, and thereby address the profound problems of substance abuse and homelessness.
Odyssey House has a strong record of success in developing and operating supportive housing and has consistently demonstrated an ability to effectively provide these services for the neediest homeless New Yorkers.
Over the last 20 years, the organization has opened eight new housing programs using both congregate care and scatter-site models, providing population-specific and mixed-use programs for the mentally ill, substance abusers and people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).
Odyssey House’s comprehensive system of housing services includes:
- Family Re-Entry – individual, furnished, two-bedroom apartments for parents and children in full-time residential treatment, 24-hour supervision, and full access to Odyssey House services
- Odyssey House Harbor – a 60-bed, congregate care residence for homeless dually-diagnosed men and women with severe mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders
- Odyssey House Haven – a 63-unit, permanent supportive housing program for chronically homeless people living with HIV/AIDS and for the medically frail
- 25 Shelter Plus Care units – transitional housing for parents and children, as well as special needs populations
- 45 units of scatter-site supportive housing
- Odyssey House Park Avenue – a 50-bed, extended stay licensed housing program for low-income adults with serious mental illness, chemical addiction who would otherwise be homeless
Currently, Odyssey House has two new supportive housing projects in development, providing a further 58 and 65 apartments in the South Bronx with construction commencement slated for early 2012.