Supportive and Affordable Housing

Supportive Housing Programs

Supportive housing is a combination of affordable housing and wrap-around support services designed to help an individual or family due to a variety of factors, including: chronic homelessness, a mental health disorder, disability, aging, substance abuse, etc. 

Supportive housing programs provide tenants with a variety of services, examples of which include educational and vocational services, access to government benefits, medical referrals, assistance in getting a job, mental health care, and treatment for drug and alcohol use. 

There are many housing programs that are administered by government and non-profit providers to support individuals and families in need of affordable housing, supportive housing, and homelessness prevention resources, including the following:

OPWDD (Office for People with Developmental Disabilities)

The New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) coordinates services for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, and other neurological impairments. It provides services directly and through a network of nonprofit service providers and state-run services.

Supports and services include Medicaid-funded long-term care services such as habilitation and clinical services, as well as residential supports and services, primarily in community settings across the state. 

In addition to Medicaid services, OPWDD also provides New York State-funded family support services to assist families to care for loved ones who live full-time in their family home.

OPWDD also provides employment supports, which include job coaching, job matching, and vocational training.

OMH (Office of Mental Health)

The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) serves individuals in psychiatric centers across New York State, and also oversees programs operated by government and nonprofit agencies. These programs include various inpatient and outpatient programs, emergency, community support, residential, and family care programs.

All individuals served in OMH Supportive Housing must have a primary diagnosis of serious mental illness, be age 18 and older, and experience substantial impairments in functioning due to their mental health condition. 

For individuals with mental health disorders, safe and affordable housing is a cornerstone of recovery, yet access to good housing is challenging and a fundamental problem for many because of their low incomes, limited low-income housing stock, and discrimination. 

OMH oversees a large array of adult housing resources and residential habilitation programs, including licensed congregate treatment housing, single-room occupancy residences, and supported housing (single site or scattered-site housing). 

OMH housing programs may provide transitional, long-term, or permanent housing; offer various levels of support, onsite or in the general community; and typically encourage independence. For example, some programs may provide 24-hour on-site staffing, meals, support, advocacy, and recovery-oriented services.

Although there are no income requirements for Supportive Housing eligibility, many participants generally have low or very low income, and most individuals receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) due to their mental health disorder.

Veterans Housing

The Veteran’s Administration (VA) has specialized programs for homeless and at-risk Veterans. Independently and in collaboration with federal and community partners, VA programs provide Veterans with housing solutions, employment opportunities, health care, and more. 

A collaborative program between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the VA combines HUD housing vouchers with VA supportive services to help Veterans who are homeless.

Supportive services include health care, mental health treatment, and substance use counseling to help veterans in their recovery process and with their ability to maintain housing in the community.

Affordable Housing Programs

Affordable housing is housing which is deemed affordable to those with a median household income or below as rated by local or national governments or a housing affordability index. In New York, the following are several housing programs that can be categorized as affordable housing:

Public Housing

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) provides low- and moderate- income New York City residents with safe, affordable housing and access to social and community services.

Section 8 Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsors and funds the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program throughout the country.

Along with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), New York City Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) and New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) also operate Section 8 programs in New York City. 

The Housing Choice Voucher program, also known as Section 8, helps eligible low- and moderate-income families to rent housing in the private market. Eligibility is based on a family's gross annual income and family size.

The program works as a rental subsidy that allows families to pay a reasonable amount of their income toward their rent. Generally, families will pay 30% of their combined monthly income toward their rent share and the subsidy pays the remaining amount to the owner or landlord on the family's behalf. This payment to the owner is known as the Housing Assistance Payment.

HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA)

The HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) is a New York City program administered by the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) because of the recognition that people living with HIV/AIDS have special needs. 

HASA assists individuals living with AIDS or HIV illness to live healthier, more independent lives. The program can help clients with intensive case management services that provides needed supports and government benefit programs for individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

There are caseworkers at HASA centers located in all five boroughs.

HASA services include intensive case management and assistance in applying for public benefits and services, such as Medicaid, SNAP, and mental health and substance abuse referrals, and especially housing support such as emergency transitional housing, non-emergency housing, and rental assistance.  

To establish eligibility, an applicant must have been diagnosed, at any time, with HIV illness or with AIDS as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rent Stabilization and Rent Control – New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR)

New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) is New York State’s affordable housing agency responsible for the supervision, maintenance, and development of affordable low-and moderate-income housing. HCR is also responsible for the oversight and regulation of the State rent regulations and protection of rent regulated tenants.

Both rent-controlled and rent-stabilized units are “rent regulated” housing, and each have their own regulations under the HCR.

Rent Stabilization

In New York City, apartments are under rent stabilization if they are in buildings of six or more units built between February 1, 1947, and December 31, 1973. Tenants in buildings built before February 1, 1947, who moved in after June 30, 1971, are also covered by rent stabilization. A third category of rent stabilized apartments covers buildings with three or more apartments constructed or extensively renovated on or after January 1, 1974, with special tax benefits. Generally, those buildings are only subject to stabilization while the tax benefits continue or, in some cases, until the tenant vacates.

Rent stabilization sets a maximum legal rent for each apartment that is based on the unique rental history of each apartment.

Rent Control

In New York City, apartments may be under Rent Control if they are in a building of less than five units built before February 1, 1947, and where the tenant (or their “lawful successor”) is in continuous occupancy prior to July 1, 1971. Apartments under rent control typically become decontrolled upon vacancy. 

If the apartment is in a building with six or more units, it will generally fall under rent stabilization upon vacancy.

Succession Rights. It may be possible to “inherit” or take over or “succeed” to a rent-controlled apartment upon the passing of the tenant. Succession rules take into account the relationship to the deceased and how long you lived in the apartment with the deceased prior to their passing. For persons who are senior citizens or disabled, the mandatory time required to have lived with the deceased may be less.

For more information, see HCR Fact Sheet #30: Succession Rights

Mitchell-Lama Housing

Mitchell-Lama housing is subsidized rental and cooperative apartments for middle income New Yorkers of any age. Apartments are supervised by either NYS DHCR or NYC HPD. A small percentage of Mitchell-Lama housing are senior-only developments.

New York City HPD Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) Cooperatives

New York City HPD has created tens of thousands of affordable homes as shareholder-owned Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) cooperatives (coops), making them a significant part of the fabric of New York City's affordable housing. HDFC coops benefit from reduced real estate taxes in exchange for following certain standards for the selling and renting of apartments, and board members must exhibit ethical behavior in carrying out their responsibilities. HPD is authorized to remove this benefit if the agency determines that the HDFC’s requirements are being violated.

City Family Homelessness & Eviction Prevention Supplement (CityFHEPS)

CityFHEPS is a New York City rental assistance program administered by the New York City Department of Social Services (DSS), which includes both the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and the Human Resources Administration (HRA). DSS has combined the LINC, SEPS, and CITYFEPS programs into the CityFHEPS program to streamline service for tenants and landlords.

CityFHEPS can help individuals find and keep housing. It is currently available to New Yorkers who meet certain eligibility criteria (e.g., income levels) and have housing but are at risk of losing it OR who are currently in shelter or experiencing street homelessness and are applying for CityFHEPS for the first time.

For individuals who are experiencing street homelessness, staying in a drop-in center or shelter, or living in a transitional housing setting, it may be necessary to already be receiving services from a DHS contracted provider for 90 days in order to be eligible for CityFHEPS. Also, individuals who are residing in permanent housing after being placed out of a drop-in center, transitional housing setting, or directly from the street may be eligible for CityFHEPS.

Assistance with homelessness prevention options and eligibility is available for those not currently living in a shelter at a Homebase office or Housing Assistance Provider (HAP) office. Individuals who are living in a shelter can seek assistance by speaking to their housing specialist at the shelter.

Housing Options for Seniors or People Living with Disabilities

There are a variety of supportive or affordable housing options for seniors and individuals living with disabilities in New York state, including the following:

Adult Homes

Adult homes are typically residences for dependent adults who are medically stable, alert, continent and ambulatory or able to transfer from bed to chair. These adult care facilities offer personal care such as assistance with bathing and dressing, three meals a day, housekeeping, social and recreational programs, and 24 hours of non-medical supervision. A considerable number of adult homes accommodate disabled and mentally ill people. 

Assisted Living Programs (ALPs)

In addition to the standard services offered by adult homes and enriched housing, ALPs provide nursing and home health care services; medical supplies and equipment; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; and case management services from a registered nurse. Residents in these facilities cannot be chronically wheelchair users or bedbound and must be medically eligible for nursing home placement but cannot require continual nursing care. Residents are regularly assessed to ensure the program continues to meet their needs. 

While Assisted Living Facilities are often expensive with fairly high monthly fees, people who qualify for Medicaid may be qualified for admission at a reduced rate.

Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC)

A Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC), is a building or neighborhood in which there are a substantial number of residents aged 60 years or older. These areas can be defined as a neighborhood, an apartment building, or a housing complex that was not originally intended as a senior home. Elderly individuals may already reside in a NORC and may be eligible for NORC program assistance. If not, an elderly individual might consider relocating to a building or neighborhood that contains a NORC.

NORCs are administered by non-profit agencies that provide services for senior residents to help them retain their independence and allow them to continue to live in their homes, preventing unwarranted nursing home placements. They also help the elderly to maintain social connections with friends and relatives, as well as encourage engagement with the community. 

NORC programs offer a wide range of benefits and services (this is dependent upon the specific NORC) and eligible individuals, and may include social work counseling and case management, meals delivery, preventative health measures, social and educational activities, counseling, housecleaning services, transportation, nursing services, and volunteer opportunities.

In order to be eligible for assistance from a NORC, an individual must be a resident of New York, at least 60 years of age, and must reside in a NORC (If the applicant does not currently reside in a NORC, it is conceivable to move into one).

NORC programs are not suitable for those needing a high level of care or those that need 24-hour assistance.

New York State has two types of NORC programs, both of which are state-funded and administered by non-profit organizations. They are a collaborative effort between the NY Department for the Aging (DFTA), the housing system, the United Hospital Fund, various service providers in the community, and the elderly NORC residents themselves.

As of April 2019, the New York Department for the Aging (DFTA) has 37 designated NORCs in New York City, and the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) has 29 designated NORCs in both New York City, Long Island, and upstate counties. 

The fee for NORC services are separate from rent and are calculated on a sliding scale based on income. They may also be paid via programs that are financed publicly.

For further information, please contact the NYC Department for the Aging (NYC DFTA) or your local office for the NY State Office for the Aging (NYS OFA).

Housing Advocacy for Clients

Project Guardianship’s goal is for all our clients to have stable, safe, affordable housing that meets their needs. To advance this goal, Project Guardianship often engages in housing advocacy for its clients who rent in the community and also those who own their own residence.  

For clients who rent, Project Guardianship maintains an active tenancy defense practice, defending clients against non-payment and holdover eviction proceedings. We also assist relatives with obtaining succession rights, bring reasonable accommodation complaints on behalf of our clients with disabilities, and advocate for habitability repairs and rent reductions. In addition, we negotiate lease renewals and help our clients maintain rental subsidies such as Section 8, SCRIE, and CityFHEPS to name a few.  

For clients who own their homes, we employ a dedicated property manager who assists with maintenance and repairs, and we advocate before the Department of Buildings and HPD to ensure our client’s properties are up to code and habitable. We are also adept at moving our clients who have special needs to housing that is appropriate to meet those needs (e.g., senior housing, mental health group homes, or Veteran’s housing).