Antonio Serna


Homelessness in the United States has grown into a crisis, and those with disabling conditions, such as a physical disability, substance use disorders, or behavioral/mental health disorders, are disproportionately at risk. Prior research in Boston found that in three-quarters of shelter stays in the city between 2014 and 2018, the person was recorded as having a disability. The susceptibility of this group to homelessness and chronic homelessness is partly because disabilities correlate with lower incomes and job insecurity, which pose a challenge to maintaining long-term housing. It is for this reason that permanent supportive housing (PSH)—housing that is paired with supportive services like voluntary counseling, treatment services, or case management—is one potential solution for people with disabling conditions experiencing homelessness.

PSH not only offers housing for people experiencing homelessness with disabling conditions, but the crucial services needed to remain housed. Yet its implementation continues to face social, economic, and political hurdles.

In this brief, author Antonio Serna examines both the successful strategies and the challenges faced in implementing PSH in Massachusetts in the hope that these lessons will further PSH as a solution in other settings.


Carsey School of Public Policy

Publication Date

Spring 5-23-2023


Perspectives Brief

Document Type



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