Mental Health Association Oklahoma’s nationally recognized permanent supportive housing programs use a Housing First approach – get people into housing and then provide the needed wrap-around services that help families and individuals access and retain housing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
We offer “market-rate payers” affordable independent-living apartments with the benefit of a landlord and staff who understand our tenants’ unique needs.
People often ask us, “How does someone get into your housing?”
First of all, tenants in our “program housing” are impacted by mental illness, homelessness, co-occurring disorders and have disabilities. They may also be veterans, or transition age youth ages 18-25.
Referrals for housing placement into our housing come through the Continuum of Care Coordinated Assessment process. Referral sources also include the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Association’s peer-run drop-in centers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, the Veterans Administration, mental health clinics, substance abuse treatment providers, homeless shelter providers and others who are serving the eligible population.
Eligibility and priority for housing placement are determined through:
1. Homeless Verification forms
2. The Vulnerability Index Service and Data Prioritization Assessment Tool (VI-SPDAT)
Essentially, we screen prospective tenants so we can help the most vulnerable people first.
Our staff members take referrals, interview applicants, determine eligibility and manage a wait list in coordination with our community partners. All the while, they work alongside our prospective tenants, and their loved ones, through the application process so we can ultimately give them the key to a new life, and a new apartment.
If you are impacted by mental illness and experiencing homelessness, you will pay rent the first day you move in; based on 30 percent of your income. If you do not have income, you will initially not pay rent when you come directly from the streets into our housing. We will work with you to help connect you to income from the Veterans Administration, Social Security Income, Social Security Disability Income, or employment. Once you get into our housing, you will eventually pay 30 percent of your income to pay your rent each month.
Veterans in our housing often utilize HUD-VASH, which is a voucher program through the Veterans Administration that provides permanent housing.
We also accept tenant-based subsidies through Housing Authority subsidies, such as Housing Choice Vouchers, which are portable Section 8 vouchers.
The Association also offers housing for people who pay below market rates for their rent. Without our housing, these tenants may otherwise have ended up homeless.