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SERVICE-ENRICHED HOUSING
& NEIGHBORHOOD-BASED  SERVICES COORDINATION

Responding to America's Challenges


The Problem: The Alleviation of Chronic Poverty

Beyond Shelter's most recent programmatic focus has been the provision of services linked to housing to address the long-term needs of families and individuals caught in a cycle of chronic poverty.

In 2007, 37.3 million people, or 12.5% of the population, lived at or below the official poverty level, an increase from 36.5 million living in poverty in 2006. The poverty rate increased for children under age 18. In 2007, 18% of children lived in poverty, while in 2006, 17.6% lived at or below the poverty level. Poverty rates among adults ages 18-64 did not change, nor did the poverty rate for people over age 65, which remained steady at 9.7%. More than 17% of residents of high-density urban areas were found to live in poverty in 2007, 70% more than the 10% of all city residents who lived in poverty in 1998.

Many low-income neighborhoods have few of the social services or educational, employment, recreational and enrichment opportunities that are available in other communities. Access to employment programs, jobs, child care, transportation, and other necessary supports is frequently nonexistent, fragmented or limited. Cultural and language barriers may exacerbate the situation.

In addition to issues of quality of life and access to resources and opportunity, there are many people in our communities - individuals and families alike - who have special needs. For them, the ability to maintain independence in permanent housing is problematic. Although supportive or special needs housing does exist for targeted populations in some communities, the reality is that the supply is limited and in many areas of the country, completely unavailable to people who need ongoing contact with a support system.

Two of Beyond Shelter's initiatives - Service-Enriched Housing and Neighborhood-Based Services Coordination - seek to increase accessibility of low-income populations to needed social services and referrals. Service-enriched housing does so primarily through services coordination linked to housing, while neighborhood-based services coordination provides outreach to the community at-large.




Although there are many similarities to supportive, special needs and transitional housing, the use of the term service-enriched housing refers primarily to permanent, basic rental housing for the low-income population at-large in which social services are available either by referral or on-site. In addition, residents are significantly involved in the decision-making process. Housing can be nonprofit, private, HUD-assisted, unsubsidized, mixed income or any combination of the above.


The Basic Methodology
A social services support system may be incorporated into the ongoing operation and management of housing through a variety of service models. The essential new component is the addition of a services coordinator. In addition to crisis intervention and resource and referral services, the services coordinator helps to develop and support a leadership group, which represents all residents and helps to plan and implement services, programs and activities.


Key Elements of Service-Enriched Housing
  • Incorporation of a services mechanism into the operation/management of affordable housing

  • Provision of crisis intervention and short-term case management

  • Assistance to residents in accessing neighborhood and community resources and services

  • Voluntary participation of residents in programs, services and activities

  • Resident participation in the decision-making process

  • Residents, management and service providers work together as a team

  • Ongoing support and monitoring are made available for residents with special needs


Variations in Physical Layout
  • Single Site - a services coordinator provides services at one site, although not necessarily full time

  • Scattered Site - a services coordinator provides services for residents at multiple sites

  • On-Site Social Services Center - may serve housing residents and also neighborhood residents

  • Community Center - independent community-based center serves a neighborhood or community and also provides services to designated multifamily housing sites


Variations in Organization Structure
  • Owner/developer hires and supervises the services coordinator directly

  • Owner/developer contracts with a social service agency for a services coordinator

  • Property management company hires and supervises the services coordinator

As a housing strategy incorporating community development, integrated service delivery and resident empowerment, service-enriched housing is a fundamental adjunct to any serious anti-poverty policy. This pertains whether the policy's primary focus is welfare reform, education, nutrition, health care or employment. Service-enriched housing recognizes that housing is central to the way people live and how they feel about themselves and is directly related to their ability to acquire the skills and stability to live productive lives.



For further information on Service-Enriched Housing:

See our publication:
Service-Enriched Housing: Models & Methodologies

Read about Beyond Shelter's Service-Enriched Housing Projects:
Beyond Shelter Housing Development Corporation

Learn more about the crisis in affordable housing and housing plus services programs:
National Low Income Housing Coalition
Housing Plus Services

Read more about Housing Plus Services:
Article: "Housing Plus Services: Supporting Vulnerable Families in Permanent Housing," (PDF) by Carol S. Cohen, Elizabeth Mulroy, Tanya Tull, Catherine White, and Sheila Crowley. Featured in a special September/October 2004 edition of Child Welfare, a publication of the Child Welfare League of America. To order the entire edition, Click here.


NOTE: PDF files require Adobe Reader. Click   to download the latest version.






While the concept is not new, in recent years neighborhood-based services has re-emerged as a vital tool for neighborhood revitalization. Like service-enriched housing, Beyond Shelter's neighborhood-based services coordination approach integrates the resident empowerment process of community development with the individual case management approach of social services. It offers low-income neighborhoods a cost-effective way to address barriers to service delivery, provide crisis intervention and implement programs that enhance the quality of life for residents.


The Methodology
Through neighborhood-based services coordination, individuals are connected with resources and services that currently exist in the community but are not often accessible. As part of the methodology, a lead agency would work collaboratively with residents, community leaders, service providers and other key stakeholders to identify, prioritize and implement goals needed to improve social services delivery and the overall quality of life in a community. The approach targets the needs of the population at-large, not only those who are vulnerable, at-risk, disabled or have special needs.


The Goal
Neighborhood-based services coordination is a preventative approach as opposed to a crisis-oriented approach. Its goal is to improve the social and economic well-being of residents by providing access to such services as job training, mental health care, child care and substance abuse counseling before unmet needs escalate into bigger social problems such as crime, gang violence, drug use and homelessness.


Neighborhood-Based Services Coordination Promotes:
  • Improved social and economic well-being of residents, including families, the elderly, children, youths and those with special needs

  • Improved coordination and delivery of social services to target populations

  • Racial equity in the community for all residents

  • Building the value of cultural strengths

  • Strengthened relationships among community-based agencies

  • Broad community participation


The Initiative in Action
The neighborhood-based services coordination approach is demonstrated in Beyond Shelter's Broadway South Neighborhood Revitalization Project.