New UCSF Study Highlights Success of Permanent Supportive Housing

Bottom Line: It Works!

A recent study conducted by the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative revealed groundbreaking new findings that permanent supportive housing is the most effective strategy to care for our most vulnerable homeless neighbors.

Conducted in Santa Clara County in partnership with Abode Services, the study tested Project Welcome Home over a four year period. It’s one of the first randomized controlled trials in the nation to test the effectiveness of permanent supportive housing. Even among those with serious medical issues or disabilities, researchers found the overwhelming majority (86%) placed into permanent supportive housing remained safe and stable in their homes for years.

“The bottom line is that even really high-risk folks can be housed,” said Margot Kushel, MD, co-author of the study, professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative.

The study also shows significant reductions in the reliance on County-funded systems of care, such as emergency psychiatric services and shelter use, for those in supportive housing. This reinforces the findings of our Cost of Homelessness Study, which found the cost of serving the highest-need homeless individuals living on the streets far exceeds the cost of connecting them to permanent housing: The “most persistently homeless” have an average public cost of $83,000 per year.

“Project Welcome Home is an excellent example of why expanding the supply of permanent supportive housing is so critical,” said Ky Le, Deputy County Executive, County of Santa Clara. “This study proves what we already know: Housing is medicine. The real challenge is harnessing the will necessary to create this solution at scale. I’m hopeful that this study will be one more tool in our efforts to end homelessness in our community.”

Read the full study

Read the UCSF press release

The Mercury News: ‘It works.’ Groundbreaking data proves success of Santa Clara County homeless housing program

These results underscore the true value and significant impact of our region’s decision to invest heavily in permanent supportive and deeply affordable housing. In November 2016, Santa Clara County voters approved Measure A – a historic $950 million affordable housing bond – which included a target of creating 4,800 new affordable housing units, including 1,800 permanent supportive housing homes. Thanks to the efforts of so many partners, we have 27 developments under construction or in the pipeline, representing 2,900 new supportive and affordable apartments. 

Now, with evidence backing that undeniable fact that supportive housing works for those who need our help the most, we must continue to accelerate the creation of this and other types of affordable housing by continuing to prioritize the deepest affordability, streamlining the development process and securing more land and resources to build these effective and desperately needed homes. 

Read this recent OpEd from our CEO, Jennifer Loving, and Tracey Edwards from the Measure A Citizens Oversight Committee outlining both the progress and steps we can take to accelerate more permanent supportive housing development.

Want to learn more about this new UCSF study?

Check out our discussion with the study’s co-authors and key partners at Abode Services and the County of Santa Clara.

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