Housing First was developed to serve individuals experiencing chronic homelessness, mental health issues, and addictions. Traditionally, these individuals live in a cycle of surviving on the street, being admitted to hospitals, shelters, or jails and then going back to the street. The stress of surviving each day in this cycle puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the individual’s psychiatric and physical health. “Living in the street,” one client said, “It makes you crazy.”
The traditional structures in place to “help” individuals experiencing chronic homelessness and mental health issues often make things worse. Shelters and transitional living programs often require people to pass sobriety tests and other hurdles before they can be considered for housing programs. Housing is considered a reward for good behavior instead of a tool to help stabilize a homeless-person’s mental health. This attitude cuts out the people who need the support the most, effectively punishing them for their conditions.
Housing first is a philosophy that supports permanent supportive housing as a vitally important component of recovery. The conventional housing system requires an individual who is experiencing homelessness to demonstrate success in an emergency shelter, transitional housing, and other non-permanent housing over many months or years before being considered for permanent housing. “Housing first” recognizes that homelessness is a significant impediment to recovery and has been demonstrated to be effective not only from a housing retention standpoint but also from a cost standpoint. The housing first model suggests that the initially higher costs of creating supportive housing are more than offset by the long term savings in the cost of shelters, incarceration, public resources (first responders such as police and fire services and emergency rooms) while an individual is unsheltered and untreated.
Step Up expanded its permanent supportive housing from 34 to a total of 200 home units. All facilities provide permanent, supportive, single room occupancy (SRO) home units. Each is small efficiency unit with a kitchenette, full bathroom, and living space. All Step Up permanent supportive home units include on-site residential managers, life-skills coordinators, and connection to Step Up or other mental health service providers for support services. Many home units are designated specifically for adults experiencing mental health issues and chronic homelessness. Some units are designated for transitional aged youth. In every community in which operates, Step Up is committed to being a good neighbor.
Housing is the #1 “supportive service” requested by members. Step Up’s permanent supportive housing brings the stability and inclusion that leads to recovery for adults and transitional aged youth (18-28 years of age) experiencing mental health issues. Step Up operates 200 units of innovative, community-based supportive housing in Santa Monica and Hollywood, as well as linkage to numerous scattered sites units in the greater Los Angeles area. Each single room occupancy (SRO) home unit is flexible, voluntary, and tenant–centered, in the least restrictive and most integrated setting to help individuals move from the streets to home. Step Up is also involved in national efforts to create the upfront working capital to scale this successful Housing First model so that this promising solution can work for all individuals experiencing chronic homelessness and mental health issues. Because homelessness is a significant impediment to recovery, Step Up assists individuals in moving from the street into permanent supportive SRO home units:
Step Up’s very first facility opened in 1994 and is a 36 unit single room occupancy (SRO) permanent supportive housing project. Major funding was provided from the City of Santa Monica and tax credit funding. Step Up on Second has served as the service coordinator and mental health provider for the facility since inception and as the property manager for the last seven years. This facility provides permanent supportive home units for adults experiencing mental issues, who may – or may not – and homelessness. Located one block from the world famous 3rd Street Promenade, and a few blocks from the ocean (some units have ocean views!), Step Up on Second is one of the earliest demonstrations of the success of permanent supportive housing as a solution for adults experiencing mental health issues and homelessness. On the ground floor of Step Up on Second is our nationally recognized psycho-social rehabilitation center. All services of Step Up are available to the tenants of Step Up on Second.
The National Winner of the 2015 HUD Secretary’s Housing and Community Design Award, Step Up on Fifth is located in a vibrant area just three blocks from Step Up on Second. These 46 SRO permanent supportive home units opened in February, 2009. Major supporters of this $18 million project include: tax credit funding of $7.5 million; and City of Santa Monica support of $7.1 million; Step Up’s own $2.5 million capital campaign with generous support provided by a lead gift from the George Hoag Family Foundation, The Annenberg Foundation, The Weingart Foundation, and The Ahmanson Foundation. This facility serves adults and young people who are experiencing chronic homelessness. Many of the adults lived on the streets of Santa Monica for years, even decades, before moving in the first part of 2009. Most of Step Up on Fifth’s home units are for adults, with a number of units dedicated to young adults experiencing the initial symptoms of mental health issues. All services of Step Up are available to tenants of Step Up on Fifth.
This 8 permanent supportive home units of Daniel’s Village are specifically designed for young adults experiencing homelessness and the initial symptoms of mental health issues. The City of Santa Monica provided $2.02 million, MHSA funded $1.4 million, and Step Up’s own $.75 million capital campaign are the major funding sources of this $3.2 million development budget. Daniel’s Village opened in August, 2009, and is located just nine blocks from Daniel’s Place, Step Up’s program for young adults in the early stages of a mental health issue. All tenants of Daniel’s Village have access to services at Daniel’s Place. This project was a major rehab of a 1940’s hotel located on the original Route 66.
Step Up’s newest community, the Kaufmann Apartments at Step Up on Colorado, opened in 2015, ending homelessness for 32 of Santa Monica’s most vulnerable neighbors. With two manager units, management & Life Skills offices, and community spaces for residents, Step Up’s newest community is located just 500 feet from Step Up on Fifth. The new Expo Line, currently under construction directly in front of Step Up on Colorado, will give residents easy access to public transportation and the greater Los Angeles area.
Step Up on Vine opened March 25, 2013, and ended homelessness for 34 individuals experiencing mental health issues and living on the streets of Hollywood. With initial funding from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and a private contribution by Aileen Getty, Step Up expanded its “housing first” permanent supportive home units outside of the Santa Monica area to Hollywood.
Through a collaboration between Step Up and Aileen Getty, the Hollywood Studio Inn was purchased in early November 2010. Pictured is the the property being converted into 32 units of permanent supportive housing! The 32 home units of Michael’s Village are part of a commitment to end veterans experiencing chronic homelessness in Los Angeles. There are many individuals experiencing mental health issues living unsheltered in the neighborhoods of Hollywood. Individuals in the greatest need of housing were the first residents of Michael’s Village. Moving from the streets to home is just the beginning of the journey to recovery. At Michael’s Village, individuals are surrounded with supportive services and human relationships as a crucial part of sustaining long-term housing for them. Comprehensive supportive services are provided by both live-in and on-site supportive services staff. Services include: Life Skills classes; supported employment training; medication support; service coordination; transportation; advocacy; and an evening security presence. Naming the project “Michael’s Village” is a tribute to an inspiring individual Step Up is honored to know. Michael’s Village opened in March 2014.
Through another successful collaboration between Step Up and Aileen Getty, the 10-unit property, located at 1146 Tamarind Avenue, was purchased in October of 2011. The 10 home units of 1146 Tamarind Avenue property are part of a commitment to end veterans experiencing chronic homelessness in Hollywood. 1146 Tamarind Avenue property opened in November of 2011.