Permanent Supportive Housing for Homeless in Central OC
OC housing and services, chronically homeless with mental illness
Jackson Aisle Apartments is an example of successful permanent supportive housing in Orange County, CA. The affordable housing complex is home to those formerly homeless – or at risk of homelessness – who live with a chronic mental illness. How did the Midway City property become an effective and sustainable model of supportive housing? With vision, fortitude and creativity.
OC’s first permanent supportive housing, helping end homelessness
In 2002, what was then HOMES, Inc., a leading nonprofit provider of housing and support for people with psychiatric disabilities (that’s now part of Jamboree’s Community Impact Group), and A Community of Friends, an experienced developer of supportive housing, began to explore a partnership to develop OC’s first community for those formerly homeless with a mental health diagnosis.
Collaborating with both Orange County’s Housing and Healthcare Agencies, a site with many code enforcement issues was identified in an unincorporated area of Orange County. Working quickly, the two nonprofits pooled together funds and petitioned the court to be able to make an offer on the site. Once accepted, this new partnership became intent on creating an effective working model of permanent supportive housing with services.
At the time, there was no Mental Health Services Act or other such funding for those with mental illness in need of permanent housing. Navigating local, state and federal funding to build and sustain permanent supportive housing with services was unchartered territory. But HOMES, Inc. and A Community of Friends persisted for nearly two years to develop and build Jackson Aisle, identify and qualify residents and even help them move in and settle in their new homes.
Building permanent supportive housing successfully
Constructed on a constrained site, Jackson Aisle is a modern four-story building with tuck-under parking that’s used more often for community gatherings than for parking given how few residents own cars. The second floor includes two case managers’ offices, and the property manager’s office and adjacent apartment are located on the third floor. The community space on the fourth floor is where residents gather for support groups and community building events such as birthdays and holidays.
Supportive services for those with mental illness
In the early days, numerous offsite agencies provided supportive services at Jackson Aisle. But it became apparent that residents would be better equipped to thrive with the daily support of onsite staff. Once again, this visionary partnership lobbied the County of Orange, this time for onsite services. With supportive services established onsite, resident turnover was drastically reduced.
How permanent supportive housing works
Today, these residents have become a family. For more than a decade now, the collaborative approach that includes regular, ongoing gatherings between the County of Orange, property management, asset management and all those providing services – as well as the residents themselves – has translated into the long-term stability of those most at risk for homelessness. Jackson Aisle is a model of how permanent supportive housing works in Orange County. The success at Jackson Aisle led to the development of Diamond Apartment Homes, a permanent supportive housing development in Anaheim dedicated 100% to those formerly homeless living with mental illness.
Jamboree and A Community of Friends continue to work with a nexus of partners to maintain Jackson Aisle as a leading example of how permanent supportive housing with services can make a difference for those no longer homeless who courageously live with mental illness.
All these years later, Helen Cameron, Jamboree’s Business Development Analyst, recalls a standout response from one of the original residents when a mental health case manager asked him what he thought of Jackson Aisle: “I really, really like it because I was living under a tree before.”
Want to see why permanent supportive housing matters in Orange County?