What do you do about dirty living conditions?

Supportive Housing Resource Exchange

Welcome to the Supportive Housing Resource Exchange. This forum is a place for all stakeholders to share their thoughts, ideas and insights into the supportive housing movement. But it is also a place to ask questions, and to find out what solutions work for other providers that may address your challenges.

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We provide PSH for individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders.

Many of these apartments rapidly fall into conditions that Property Managers find difficult to accept.  Spilled food, flies and other pests, cigarette ashes, feces.

For clients who do not respond to feedback about their units, what do you do?


Hi Ryan! Thanks for writing in.  Clients who struggle with cleanliness is a common problem within supportive housing programs.  This issue can be compounded by property managers who may or may not be familiar with the complex issues many clients face.  In my experience, folks have had fairly good success with using many of the same strategies they do to address other goals the client has.  Adding cleanliness goals with attainable objectives to a client’s service plan, along with positive reinforcement when things go well and constructive feedback when things aren’t going well can help.  Also, cleanliness can be a symptom of larger problems the client may be struggling with.  Having a conversation about why the client doesn’t feel able to keep their spot clean and breaking down the barriers they may feel could be useful.  Something like spoiled food may actually be a fear around taking out the trash.  Cigarette ashes may be a lack of money to buy ashtrays.  In a more broad sense, these behaviors can also be signs a client may have relapsed or they have become more symptomatic.  Being messy is one thing, but when it gets to the level you describe above, most often it has little to do with the actual apartment.  Addressing the root causes can sometimes help.

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Foothold Technology created the Supportive Housing Resource Center for organizations and providers working to address homelessness around the country. We offer this resource center as an online gathering place where providers can share resources, tips, and stories as a learning tool for partners and providers who are working tirelessly to support the complex needs of those facing or experiencing homelessness.