The journey back from detox and addiction recovery is one that, most of the time, can’t be done alone. It requires the support of family, friends, and the community. Access to resources and support systems are invaluable. One of the most important resources is safe, stable, and affordable housing.
Transitional housing programs are designed to provide a temporary, safe, and affordable living situation for individuals and families who are homeless and are seeking independence in their domestic situations. Most often, individuals who are seeking transitional housing have experienced some type of substance abuse disorder and have lost their economic self-sufficiency.
In years past, transitional housing typically conjured thoughts of those who were recently released from jail or prison time. A more modern interpretation of transitional housing is one that helps individuals in a variety of situations including those who are:
Transitional housing programs typically allow for up to 24 months of temporary residency with continuing services and programs to help individuals stay on the track they have worked so hard to get back to.
The individual situations that lead to the need for transitional housing are varied. As such, there is also a variety in the types of transnational housing with each focusing on the specific needs of the situation. The most common types of transitional housing include:
The primary benefit of transitional housing is that families and individuals who are in a housing emergency have a safe and stable shelter while they are sorting out the issues that are at the root of their homelessness.
Beyond safety and stability, other benefits that transitional housing provides include:
While often used interchangeably, there are differences between transitional housing programs and shelter programs. Most notably, shelter programs are designed to be very temporary and used in emergency situations. Shelters are designed to keep individuals and families off the street and are typically the first stop on the journey to stable housing.
Transitional housing, while not intended to be permanent, is a step toward finding a more permanent housing solution.
Overall, the number of individuals who were staying in sheltered locations fell by 8% in 2020. While this is great news, there is still a considerable concern for those who continue to experience homelessness. There is much work to be done. According to HUD’s report on homelessness:
While the overall number of sheltered homeless cases declined, one, particularly concerning statistic, relates to the increase in individuals who are chronically homeless. This alone shows how much work there is yet to be done as it relates to helping the homeless and home insecure population get on solid footing through transitional housing programs.
In the simplest terms, translational housing programs provide temporary relief for individuals and families so that they can address the root cause of their homelessness. Without stable and secure housing, obtaining gainful employment, seeking treatment, or continuing education is simply not possible.
Many of the situations that thrust families and individuals into homeless are addressed in the transitional housing process. For instance, social workers in the transitional housing program can help families obtain affordable health care that would have otherwise created an unsustainable financial crisis. Or, those same social workers can help those with a mental illness obtain the help and resources to pay rent on time, understand leasing responsibilities, and prepare them for a more independent life.
Transitional housing programs are one essential component in a system of resources that helps the most vulnerable populations get back on their feet. With the aid of these programs, many families across the United States are in safe and stable housing situations that will ultimately change the course of their lives going forward.