07/03/2012 - Top Ten Reasons Homeless Advocates Care about the New Section 811 Project Rental Assistance (PRA) Program

On May 15, 2012, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development published the highly anticipated Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for HUD’s Fiscal Year 2012 Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Project Rental Assistance Demonstration (PRA Demo) Program. The PRA Demo NOFA announces the availability – for the first time – of $85 million in funding to identify, stimulate, and support innovative state-level partnerships and strategies that will transform and increase affordable permanent supportive housing (PSH) for extremely low income people with disabilities including those experiencing homelessness.  Applications from States are due on July 31st. On June 14, the USICH hosted a webinar that discussed the PRA Demo Program and how homeless providers and advocates can help their states take advantage of this new resource.

Top 10 Reasons Homeless Advocates Should Help Their States Secure These Funds

Reason #10: It provides an opportunity to be at the table with your state’s Medicaid and Health and Human Services Agency staff. Partnerships are critical. Medicaid is an important source of funding for homeless services in many states. Today it may seem challenging to enroll people experiencing homelessness in Medicaid. By 2014 (when PRA Demo PSH units are available for occupancy), however, the Affordable Care Act will have made the process of enrolling low-income households including those experiencing homelessness much easier.

Reason #9:  We need to tap every resource possible.   The need is great. The PRA demo is a new tool that could annually provide up to as many as 400 new affordable housing units linked to voluntary community-based support services to your state.

Reason #8:  Many people experiencing homelessness also have disabilities. Chronic homelessness is associated with more severe symptoms of mental illness and substance use as well as high rates of chronic disabling health conditions. 

Reason #7: Section 811 PRA is one of only two HUD programs receiving funds for new units in FY12. Again, the need is great. Take advantage of every opportunity to add to your state’s portfolio of permanent supportive housing.

Reason #6 The PRA Demo requires consumer choice which is associated with success in housing.  The PRA Demo Program offers states an opportunity to diversify and add to their portfolio of affordable housing options. The PRA Demo explicitly requires that consumers choose their housing and services, an option that is often unavailable in many communities. 

Reason #5:  This program targets extremely low-income households with incomes at or below 30% of Area Median Income. This deep subsidy program works for even those households with little or no income.

Reason #4:  The PRA Demo will make new Supportive Housing units available quickly. The PRA Demo allows States to use project based rental assistance in existing units in order to bring them on line more quickly.  The Program expects states to build on their existing pipeline in order to bring units on more efficiently and cost effectively.

Reason #3: The program provides access to high quality integrated units. The PRA Demo will provide PSH units integrated in developments with non-subsidized units, a strategy that helps to ensure housing units will be well maintained.

Reason #2:  The PRA Demo is consistent with two Opening Doors objectives.  Objective 4: Provide permanent supportive housing to prevent and end chronic homelessness. Objective 7: Integrate primary and behavioral health care services with homeless assistance programs and housing to reduce people’s vulnerability to and the impacts of homelessness.

Reason #1:  Permanent Supportive Housing is what we need!  The most successful intervention for ending chronic homelessness is permanent supportive housing.

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