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Myths versus Realities of Supportive Housing*

Click on the myth to see the reality

MYTH: My property value will plummet.

REALITY: Not In the slightest. In fact, your property value may even increase. According to the results of more than 25 surveys of communities in which housing for the mentally Ill have been placed NOT ONE experienced a drop in property values, while many experienced increases. The only measurable negative effect that was found concerned abnormal rates of sale before the housing was sited and completed. Analysts believe these cases were fear-related.  Impact studies were done for Iowa; Columbus, Ohio; Toronto; Princeton, New Jersey; Decatur, Illinois; Laming, Michigan; Stamford, Connecticut; California; Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Evanston, Illinois; Springfield, Illinois; Brockport, N.Y.; New Orleans, LA; and Westfield Massachusetts to name a few… which have been tracked over the years by the Corporation for Supportive Housing.

MYTH: The mentally ill are unstable and violent. My family will be in danger.

REALITY: No. In fact they’ll be in less danger than if “normal” citizens moved into your neighborhood. 1) rigorous screening of residents will be done to screen out those who are dangerous and not appropriate for congregate living,  2) on-site caseworkers are there to ensure that any problems that arise are dealt with swiftly. 3) in studies measuring crime statistics in communities that contain supportive housing, there was no increase in crime. In fact, Common Ground Community (NYC) has seen marked reductions in crime in the neighborhoods where their supportive housing is located.

MYTH: The residents will try to deal drugs to my kids.

REALITY: NO! Supportive housing sponsors / operators have zero tolerance for substance abusers: anyone found to be dealing drugs will lose their housing. Period. On-site personnel ensure the community’s protection. No such supervision exists for “normal” apartment buildings. (NOTE: In projects where there is more leniency concerning tenants’ use of substances, such as the harm-reduction model, the sponsor should amend its lease and house rules rider(s) using strong, clear language).

MYTH: This is going to cost taxpayers a fortune.

REALITY: No. Supportive housing is far less expensive than the alternatives. Institutional and acute care hospital beds cost five to ten times as much. Shelters, while sometimes comparable in cost, don’t address factors that contribute to an individual’s homelessness. And since there is no service linkage in shelters, those who stay in them depend on high-cost emergency room care for most all health needs, rather than lower-cost primary healthcare services / providers. Further, supportive housing ENDS the costly “cycle of homelessness” in which homeless and disabled people chum among expensive emergency care and housing options.

MYTH: This Is just another government program being shoved down the community’s throat.

REALITY:    Supportive housing is not a “government program”.  It was developed through trial and error by non-profit organizations that traditionally care for the sick and poor. It is run by non-profits who are based in the community. Funding for supportive housing comes from a variety of sources including the federal, state, and local governments, corporations through tax credit investment, and philanthropies.

MYTH: These people just want a free ride at the taxpayer’s expense.

REALITY: Supportive housing helps people who want to help themselves. It provides a caring nurturing community for those with problems, not unlike your own home. Residents are looking to put their lives back on track: permanent housing combined with access to services allows them to do that. And the proof is that nearly 85% of tenants successfully reintegrate into the community based on studies completed by credible research professionals and organizations (Univ. of Penn., Harvard and others)

MYTH: This project will act as a magnet for homeless people.

REALITY: The Eastman Commons supportive housing project sited for your neighborhood is not a shelter with an open-door policy. It will have a set number of apartments allotted for formerly homeless people with special needs and others available for low-income working people. These apartments are offered on a permanent basis by referral, and turnover is generally very low running between 1 and 15%.  Further, all these residents are referred by local agencies that they have been affiliated with preference given to local residents that are ready for more independent and supportive housing living.

MYTH: We’ve already done our fair share.

REALITY:  If we have people with nowhere to call home in our community, then there is a real problem that needs to be addressed.  The City’s annual community development Consolidated Plan supports this need.  Supportive housing is the safest, most successful, and most cost-effective answer to solving that problem. It will not negatively affect your community and will, in all likelihood, improve it. Virtually without exception, supportive housing developers have found that neighbors who opposed projects have changed their minds completely once the buildings were up and running.

MYTH:  Fine for you, you’ll just build this thing and leave. This is our home.

REALITY: Supportive housing sponsors like Eastman Commons and its Development Team are members of the community too and have brought together over a hundred year track record of being responsible and responsive citizens.  But we understand your concern and welcome your participation in our organizing a community advisory committee that will establish as the project moves forward.

* Source:  Based on information and analyses compiled by the Corporation for Supportive Housing.

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