Theses Master's

Increasing Access to Supportive Housing for High-Acuity New Yorkers

Reuther, Morgan

Supportive housing has played an increasingly critical role as a key component of New York City's housing stock since its inception in the mid-twentieth century. This type of housing is generally defined as affordable housing with integrated supportive services and has proven to be a cost-effective means for breaking cyclical hospitalization, incarceration, and shelter intake for vulnerable New Yorkers. Amidst the current and unprecedented homelessness and affordability crisis exists a need to re-examine how current supportive housing programs are functioning and their efficacy in meeting the needs of high-acuity New Yorkers. Many iterations of city and state programs implemented over several decades have left a fragmented and complex array of policies that govern who has access to supportive housing and how. While unit creation was, and continues to remain, a central focus and metric for supportive housing policy success, identifying and removing the many bureaucratic and administrative hurdles preventing those in need of supportive housing from accessing it must be prioritized.

The purpose of this report is to provide a holistic analysis of measures to be taken so that supportive housing can function as intended: to provide housing tailored to meet the unique needs of those at the highest risk of homeless and with high needs for mental health services. To do so, New York's supportive housing funding programs and intake system must remain specific enough to target populations most in-need while maintaining flexibility to ensure programs can reach a broader range of individuals and households in need of supportive housing services. To provide a foundation for this analysis, a comprehensive summary is presented that details the housing policies that have shaped the development of supportive housing in New York City since its origins in the mid-twentieth century. This context informs an evaluation of the factors and the policies that shape the criteria and function of current supportive housing programs today, which will be backed by an analysis of supportive housing application data published by NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) under the Coordinated Assessment and Placement System (CAPS) initiative and Local Law 3 to identify current barriers and gaps in New York City's intake system. Finally, this report explores the potential solutions for a reimagined system of supportive housing that provides permanent, affordable housing and supportive services and creates healthier, thriving communities across New York City.

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This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2026-01-29.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Bou Akar, Hiba
M. S., Columbia University
Published Here
January 29, 2024