Homeless Terms To Know – Permanent Housing

“Permanent Housing” is another of those phases used in the homelessness industry that isn’t exactly what it sounds like.    Although permanency is the goal in getting a homeless person off the streets, the word “housing” betrays other intentions.   “Housing” never means “home”.  Housing is always a facility or a program run by some organization.   And whenever a homeless person is living in such a facility or program, they are under additional obligations to the organization besides just paying rent.

For a truly non-homeless person, the only obligation they are under to maintain a home is to pay rent in a timely manner.  But in a “permanent housing” situation, the person not only must pay rent but also meet other requirements as placed on them by the organization.  Failure to meet these other obligations can lead to eviction.  Therefore the “permanent” part is an illusion – so is any sense of real independence.

The phrase “permanent housing” is language manipulated to make the situation sound better than it really is.  It is a way for the homeless industry to appear as though it has solved homelessness.   Actually it is glorified shelter living made permanent.

Sometimes, though, when someone says “permanent housing”, they are really referring to permanent supportive housing.

The last time I had a place to live, it was part of Nashville’s poorly designed “Housing First” program – although, come to think if it, I don’t think the city actually called it that.   Many agencies were involved and to qualify I had to jump through all the hoops these many different agencies set up.  At one point even my Senator had to be called-in to get the deal finished.   Once I had the place, an SRO in a small building full of other homeless people, not only did I have to pay a monthly rent, I had to constantly be in conformity with standards set by two different agencies – HUD’s Section 8 program, and with the company which owned  the building I lived in.   The landlord was receiving many different grants from different government and charitable agencies, so I had to allow my landlord to use my personal information in qualifying for these grants – even though I did not personally benefit from them.   My income, my living situation, everything about me was inspected, and if I was not within expected grant parameters I could have been evicted.    With my anxiety issues, this process was always difficult and stressful.  After 5 years of it, I’d had enough.  I stopped participating, and was evicted.

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About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless
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