Spirit and Miniaga (pictured above) were once among the uncounted number of homeless human-animal families who struggle to find shelter or housing together. Luckily, Spirit found his way into a rare pet-friendly transitional housing program that eventually paved the way to permanent housing. Soon, people experiencing homelessness with their companion animals may not have to rely on luck to find respite for the whole family.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has created a new tool to help communities combat rising homelessness. Communities will soon be able to apply for a new type of government sponsored housing program called "joint component" projects, which combine the activities of transitional housing* and rapid re-housing**. Joint component projects will provide crisis housing, financial assistance, and wrap around services*** with the goal of moving program participants into permanent housing as soon as possible. People should be able to access their brief stay without pre-conditions, meaning that such projects have low barriers to entry. Pet ownership is listed as one of the circumstances that must be accommodated in order to meet joint component housing's low-barrier requirements.
In the department's most recent notice on joint component housing, HUD also stresses thoughtful planning of projects, asking communities to establish performance benchmarks for their programs. Among the questions HUD recommends communities consider when developing performance measures is:
"How well will the project accommodate people with a variety of needs, including different household configurations, service needs, or pets?"
Funding and applications for joint component projects are not yet available. To read more about joint component projects, click here.
*Transitional Housing - A project that has as its purpose facilitating the movement of homeless individuals and families to permanent housing within a reasonable amount of time (usually 24 months). Transitional housing includes housing primarily designed to serve deinstitutionalized homeless individuals and other homeless individuals with mental or physical disabilities and homeless families with children.
**Rapid Re-Housing - An intervention informed by a Housing First approach which rapidly connects families and individuals experiencing homelessness to permanent housing through a tailored package of assistance that may include the use of time-limited financial assistance and targeted supportive services.
***Wrap Around Services - Wraparound is a term used to describe a process by which service providers agree to collaborate to improve the lives of children, families and adults by creating, enhancing, and accessing a coordinated system of support through a strengths-based, client-driven model. An emphasis is placed on identifying and enhancing the client’s natural and informal supports, or to assist them in finding new informal supports.