Housing Chronically Homeless People: Opportunities through the 811 Mainstream Vouchers

There’s no doubt about it: we need more resources to end homelessness in this nation. In fact, we need many more resources.

But we also need to make sure that we use every single resource that exists. And for communities seeking to address chronic homelessness, there are important resources available right now.

811 Mainstream Vouchers: What They Are, and How to Use Them

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently awarded more than $130 million in housing vouchers for public housing authorities (PHAs) to expand housing capacity for the most vulnerable in their communities. This is great news for more than 300 awardee PHAs. HUD’s Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher program (also referred to as “811 Mainstream Vouchers”) provides critical funding to ensure that non-elderly people with disabilities experiencing homelessness can access housing.

Now the Work Begins

Many PHAs and Continuums of Care (CoCs) worked hard together to forge the partnerships needed for a successful application. But that’s just the first step. 

Now, the hard work really begins: getting people experiencing homelessness into units. CoCs and PHAs have to extend their partnerships all the way through lease-up. As CoCs begin the housing process, they should emphasize their vantage points as partners:

  1. CoCs have relationships with the target population
  2. CoCs have experience implementing tenant based rental assistance programs
  3. CoCs have coordinated entry to identify applicants

Similar to the first round of funding in 2018, HUD provided points for applications that included partnerships between public housing agencies (the applicants) and community agencies, especially those that assist people with disabilities who are transitioning out of institutional or other segregated settings, at risk of institutionalization, homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The latest award also included people who previously experienced homelessness and are currently in a permanent supportive housing or rapid re-housing project, e.g., a moving on program.

Continuing the Partnership

Working across systems can be challenging, but CoCs have the expertise required to assist PHAs house chronically homeless people. 

Just as CoCs and PHAs worked together to complete the application for the 811 Mainstream Housing Vouchers, we now have to effectively partner up to reach the ultimate goal: to get people with disabilities into affordable units.