Housing First Model



What is Housing First?

Housing First is a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, thus ending their homelessness and serving as a platform from which they can pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life. This approach is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a place to live before attending to anything less critical, such as getting a job, budgeting properly, or attending to substance use issues. Additionally, Housing First is based on the theory that client choice is valuable in housing selection and supportive service participation, and that exercising that choice is likely to make a client more successful in remaining housed and improving their life.

The Association’s Threefold Housing Mission

1. Provide access for individuals experiencing homelessness and have a disability.

2. Prevent additional homelessness by offering truly affordable housing to families and individuals with the greatest need.

3. Preserve the affordable housing stock in the community that is at risk of redevelopment, which could displace low-income households and further price them out of the market.

We connect tenants with a variety of programs and partnerships to provide supportive services that address their needs. The ultimate goal is for the tenant to remain housed, and gradually achieve greater self-sufficiency and reintegration into the fabric of our community.

Tulsa and OKC Housing Tours for Supporters

The Association is a mental health leader across the state known for innovative, results-oriented programs and services that positively change the lives of people impacted by mental illness and homelessness in Oklahoma. Chief among our accomplishments is our affordable housing program and recovery services in Tulsa and Oklahoma City designed to successfully reintegrate people impacted by mental illness and homelessness back into their community.

One of the best ways to understand how these cities are ending homelessness is to see our housing in person and hear how it works.

These tours are for Oklahomans interested in learning more about how they can support our nationally recognized housing and services programs.

How to Sign-Up for a Guided Tour for Supporters

If you are an Association supporter interested in taking a guided tour of the Association’s life-changing housing and recovery programs, contact Matt Gleason at 918.382.2422 or email mgleason@mhaok.org.

Note: For people interested in living in our housing, please call us at 918.585.1213 or 405.943.3700, or email us at info@mhaok.org.

More Than Just a Home

When someone moves into our housing, they don’t just get a key to a door and a roof above their head. They are supported by on-site case management to focus on building relationships to enable the tenants to set and meet their goals for successful recovery from homelessness, mental illness and/or substance abuse.

In the past, access to housing required people experiencing mental illness and homelessness to demonstrate “housing readiness” by achieving sobriety or entering treatment before they were offered permanent housing. This approach was founded upon a logic of earning the opportunity for housing, but largely precluded people with more complex problems from accessing housing.

While traditional housing programs are intended to ensure that underlying causes of homelessness are addressed, it can be extremely difficult to work towards recovery from mental illness and co-occurring disorders while lacking the security of a home. Without access to safe, decent and affordable housing, individuals cycle in and out of hospitalizations, get caught in a cycle of minor criminal justice involvement and over utilize public services, such as ambulances, emergency rooms, and crisis beds.

Our housing and wrap-around services are not time limited for persons who are experiencing homelessness and have a disabling condition. It differs from transitional housing because our tenants have all rights of tenancy -- they pay rent and sign leases, and there is no limit on the duration of stay. They are finally home.

Housing & Recovery Programs

Homeless Outreach & Rapid Response
We provide mobile street outreach in Tulsa to individuals and families experiencing homelessness. In addition, we work with law enforcement to ensure people stay connected to services and avoid being ticketed or incarcerated. Our ultimate goal is to give people experiencing homelessness, and their families, an opportunity to start new lives.

Mobile Medical Intervention Services
To help meet the needs of people living within the Association’s apartment complexes — and people experiencing homelessness — we offer our Mobile Medical Intervention Services. It is made possible through a collaboration between the William K. Warren Foundation and the Association.

Metropolitan Apartment Program
Our Metropolitan Apartment Program - Long-term Supportive (MAP-LTS) features scattered-site apartments for people who can live independently in the community when provided supportive services.

Once people move off the streets and into our housing, our dynamic MAP staff members build trust and lasting relationships with our new tenants. It’s their job to walk alongside tenants as they connect to services in the community and continue on their path to recovery.

Pathways Case Management
Our Pathways case managers are on the streets reaching out to Oklahoma City’s most vulnerable citizens, including veterans, young adults and those who have experienced homelessness for months, years or even decades.

It doesn’t matter where someone is living — an encampment hidden in the woods, or under a bridge — our Pathways case managers seek them out to offer hope and housing. But some people aren’t ready to make a sudden leap from the streets into housing, so it can take several visits over multiple weeks to build enough trust with the person. Once that trust is formed, it’s a lasting relationship that, ultimately, leads to a new life in recovery.

Wrap-Around Services
The simple act of having a place to call home is a game-changing opportunity, which allows people to stabilize and focus on their treatment needs. A key component of our housing is the wrap-around services and supportive case management that are provided to help ensure that people will be successful.

Case managers check in on tenants, provide ongoing needs assessments, and help them access treatment services in the community, avoiding more intensive interventions, such as hospital stays. This helps individuals to maintain their stability and work towards increased income, skill level, and increased self-sufficiency.

Peer support specialists work closely with case managers to support program participants and provide insight into maintaining a strong and successful recovery. Peer support specialists are individuals who are in recovery from homelessness and mental illness. Their ability to directly relate to the challenges and concerns of the program participants makes them a critical piece of the support system to ensure successful reintegration into housing and the community.

Furthermore, our most vulnerable tenants impacted by mental illness are connected with a Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT). These PACT team members are trained in the areas of psychiatry, social work, nursing, substance abuse, and vocational rehabilitation. PACT recipients receive the multi-disciplinary, round-the-clock staffing of a psychiatric unit, but within the comfort of their own apartment.

Mental Health Association Oklahoma is committed to compliance with all federal, state, and local fair housing laws. Mental Health Association Oklahoma will not discriminate against any person because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, disability, or any other specific classes protected by applicable laws. Mental Health Association Oklahoma will allow any reasonable accommodation or reasonable modification based upon a disability-related need. The person requesting any reasonable modification may be responsible for the related expenses.

Housing First Model

Debt-free Ownership
Our debt-free ownership model offers stable, sustainable housing and a revenue stream to support supportive services for those we serve.

We utilize the profits made renting to households in the unsubsidized, market-rate units to help each property cash flow – even while allowing for some individuals with no income to enter our housing. This strategy achieves both community integration and financial sustainability.

Public-Private Partnerships
Our public-private partnership model leverages funding from a variety of sources for purchases of affordable housing in the community. Essentially, we use public dollars to raise private dollars and vice versa.

It’s critical to have all sectors investing in affordable housing to end homelessness. Some of our funding streams on the public side are used for capital to be invested for acquisition and rehabilitation. We also have resources that enable us to do the very same thing on the private side.

Over the past quarter century, the Association has conducted capital campaigns to raise public and private money and leverage other resources back to the community. Our largest capital campaign, “Building Tulsa, Building Lives.” It went on to surpass its goals by raising $54 million to purchase 1,127 additional units of housing in Tulsa. This preceded our $12 million “Building Oklahoma, Building Lives” capital campaign, which provided a new administrative home for the Association, added to the Association’s capital reserve fund, and initiated affordable housing for Oklahomans impacted by homelessness and mental illness in Oklahoma City.

Mixed-Income, Mixed-Population Model
We use a low-density, scattered-site approach to end homelessness. This means that no more than 25-30 percent of our units in any one location should be dedicated to individuals impacted by mental illness, homelessness, and disabilities. This ensures that our apartment complexes do not become de facto institutions.

Both debt-free ownership, along with this mixed-income, mixed-population model, enables us to promote integration into the community, provide a sustainable operating budget, and gives us the means to purchase and develop new units of affordable housing.

Permanent Supportive Housing
Our Metropolitan Apartment Program – Long-term Supportive (MAP-LTS) features scattered-site apartments for people who can live independently in the community when provided supportive services. Once people move off the streets and into our housing, our dynamic MAP staff members build trust and lasting relationships with our new tenants. It’s their job to walk alongside tenants as they connect to services in the community and continue on their path to recovery. In addition, MAP now offers its MAP Auxiliary program, which promotes working with families, prevention and Women in Recovery, along with current participants who have become more independent and require fewer services from team members.

The program’s objectives include establishing housing stability, increased income and skill level, and increased self-sufficiency.

Transitional Living
At our Walker Hall Transitional Living Center, we offer 24-hour staffing for young adults impacted by mental illnesses ages 18-25 who are experiencing homelessness. Walker Hall promotes the life-skills development needed to help tenants successfully move into permanent housing within two years.

Safe Haven
Safe Haven programs at our Altamont Apartments and Yale Avenue Apartments provide supportive housing with 24-hour on-site staffing for adults, including veterans, who are experiencing homelessness and impacted by serious mental illnesses and co-occurring disorders. At these apartment complexes, we offer short-term, transitional, and long-term options.

Independent Living
We offer “market-rate payers” affordable independent-living apartments with the benefit of a landlord and staff who understand our tenants’ unique needs.