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Beyond the Key to the Front Door Helping People with Complex Needs Succeed as Tenants Brigitte Witkowski, Executive Director Presented to Professional.

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Presentation on theme: "Beyond the Key to the Front Door Helping People with Complex Needs Succeed as Tenants Brigitte Witkowski, Executive Director Presented to Professional."— Presentation transcript:

1 Beyond the Key to the Front Door Helping People with Complex Needs Succeed as Tenants Brigitte Witkowski, Executive Director Presented to Professional Development Conference: “Supportive Housing for Persons with Complex Needs” St. John’s, Newfoundland Tuesday, May 27, 2008

2 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants2 What Tenants Do Pay rent on time Keep the unit clean Report maintenance or repair problems Repair or pay for damage they cause - –In the unit or common area –By accident or on purpose –By the tenant or anyone they let into the building

3 3 Chronically Homeless People Bring Extraordinary Complexity Race … Sexual Orientation … Gender … Ethnicity … The interplay of challenges, internalized stigma, experiences of discrimination, affects the new tenant’s ability and confidence to succeed as a tenant. © 2008

4 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants4 Tenants can lose their housing if: they or anyone the tenant brings into the building –interferes with other tenants’ quiet enjoyment; –harasses the landlord; –impairs the safety of another person; –violates local health, safety or occupancy by- laws.

5 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants5 Tenants can also lose their housing if they: commit an illegal act or trade (tenant or occupant or anyone let on premises); produce or traffic an illegal drug; misrepresent their income (in RGI housing); are away for more than 120 days (in some RGI housing).

6 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants6 “Life on the street is very fast and very addictive. Changing the pace when I had my own place was really hard.”

7 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants7 “The guy next door was harassing me. He was totally out of control. I had to get out of there.”

8 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants8 “A friend gave me ten bucks if he could move in. Next thing I knew he was dealing from my room. I couldn’t get rid of him, so they got rid of me.”

9 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants9 People who have been homeless a long time need to assume a new identity as “householders.” They need to recover from homelessness.

10 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants10 Recovering from homelessness means: Coping with challenges Learning new skills Assuming a new role – the role of the tenant.

11 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants11 If they receive the supports they need: In the U.S. – success rates of 80%+ In Canadian supportive housing – 90%+ success rate 85% of “Streets to Home” residents – most homeless more than 5 years – kept their homes for 18+ months U.K. systematic literature review: support, timing, amount, length - heightened likelihood of successful tenancy Our reasons for hope

12 12 Simple The recipe is essential Recipes are tested to assure replicability of later efforts No particular expertise; knowing how to cook increases success Recipe notes the quantity and nature of “parts” needed Recipes produce standard products Certainty of same results every time known Complicated Formulas are critical and necessary Sending one rocket increases assurance that next will be OK High level of expertise in many specialized fields + coordination Separate into parts and then coordinate Rockets similar in critical ways High degree of certainty of outcome knowable Complex Formulae have only a limited application Raising one child gives no assurance of success with the next Expertise can help but is not sufficient; relationships are key Can’t separate parts from the whole Every child is unique Uncertainty of outcome remains Unknowable Adapted from Glouberman & Zimmerman

13 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants13 The Keys to Success Choice -- not placement Orientation at move-in Visits in the tenant’s home A system for paying rent Good communication between the landlord, tenant and agency

14 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants14 Choice -- not placement... Because our idea of a good place may be quite different from someone else’s

15 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants15 Orientation at Move-In... Because you can’t assume everyone knows: –Where to send the rent –How to work the stove –How to use the garbage chute –What cleaning products will damage surfaces –When an electrical outlet is overloaded –How to use a toilet plunger –When (and whom) to call for a repair.

16 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants16 Visits in the tenant’s home... Because the problems that can threaten a tenancy often evolve over several weeks

17 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants17 “My case worker comes once a week. He helps a lot. I didn’t pay rent for two months, but he helped me make a deal with the landlord to pay the arrears.”

18 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants18 “I had talked to my client many times on the phone, and she seemed fine. But when I went to her home I discovered all the furniture gone. She said, ‘I wanted it to be a beach.’ If I hadn’t visited, I would have missed this sign that she was becoming ill again.”

19 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants19 “At first, I didn’t know what to do with an apartment, or with my money. I didn’t take care of myself. I didn’t care. I was hallucinating through dehydration. I was hospitalized. But the worker helped. They made things work. That’s what saved my housing.”

20 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants20 “No-one is going to phone me up and say, `Hey, I’m a failure.’ My visits make it easier for a client to say there’s a problem.”

21 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants21 A system for paying rent... Because it’s one less worry... Because most of us use pre-authorized system for our mortgage and rent payments

22 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants22 Good communication... Between the landlord and tenant... Between the landlord and your agency

23 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants23 The costs of a failed tenancy

24 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants24 If it doesn’t work Tenants lose their homes, health, social relationships -- everything! Landlords lose an average $2,500 per eviction -- and say “Never again”! Social Housing, Supportive Housing and Private Landlords are frustrated

25 Helping people with complex needs succeed as tenants25 The Keys to Success Choice -- not placement Orientation at move-in Visits in the tenant’s home A system for paying rent Good communication between the landlord, tenant and agency

26 26 Research Publications List Models of Supportive Housing; Council to Homeless Persons; Parity Vol.21 Issue 2; March or Low Intensity Support Services: a systematic literature review; Joseph Rowntree Foundation; June Housing First, Consumer Choice, and Harm Reduction for Homeless Individuals with a Dual Diagnosis; Sam Tsemberis, Leyla Gulcur and Maria Nakae; American Journal of Public Health; April 2004, Vol 94, No 4. Housing and Community Integration Issues for People with Psychiatric Disabilities; UPenn Collaborative on Community Integration; website: Community Integration of Persons with Psychiatric Disabilities in Supportive Independent Housing: A Conceptual Model and Methodological Considerations; Yin-Ling Irene Wong and Phyllis L. Solomon; Mental Health Services Research; Publisher: Springer Netherlands; Volume 4, Number 1; March Predicting Staying in or Leaving Permanent Supportive Housing That Services Homeless People with Serious Mental Illness; Prepared for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research; Yin-Lin Irene Wong, Trevor Hadley, Dennis Culhane, Steve Poulin, Morris Davis, Brian Cirksey, James Brown; University of Pennsylvania, Centre for Mental Health Policy and Services Research; March, Housing is Health Care; John Lozier; Homeless in Europe; Winter 2006.


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