Supportive Housing

To DESC, supportive housing means much more than a building with services. The design of the facility, staffing patterns, program values and ways of interacting with residents all combine to create a program that helps people succeed over the long term.

Most DESC housing residents live with challenges that would seem overwhelming or insurmountable to the average person: mental illness, drug and alcohol addictions, HIV, physical or developmental disabilities, and extreme poverty. In most cases, they are not affected by just one of these conditions, but are multiply disabled and have long histories of homelessness or frequent failures in other low-income housing settings. To increase their opportunity for success, residents in each of our housing sites have access to 24-hour a day, 7 days a week supportive services:

  • State-licensed mental health and chemical dependency treatment
  • On-site health care services
  • Daily meals and weekly outing to food banks
  • Case management and payee services
  • Medication monitoring
  • Weekly community building activities

DESC entered the supportive housing arena in 1994 with the opening of The Union, a historic 52 unit building located in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle. This first housing project marked the expansion of our mission from merely managing homelessness to actually ending the homelessness of our community's most vulnerable men and women. Today, DESC owns and manages nearly 1,000 units of supportive housing throughout Seattle, and has one project currently under development phase in Southeast Seattle.

DESC Supportive Housing is built upon the Housing First Philosophy. You can learn more about Housing First here.

projects in development Current Supportive Housing

Prior to June 2016, DESC managed applicants for our Supportive Housing projects by prioritizing them according to the DESC Vulnerability Assessment Tool (VAT) score. Starting in June 2016, all housing referrals to DESC will be centralized through King County's Coordinated Entry system as part of King County's implementation of Coordinated Entry for All (CEA). The VI-SPDAT has been selected as the common assessment and triage tool, and housing placements will be allocated based on individual's VI-SPDAT score.

Vulnerability Assessment TOOL (VAT)

The DESC Vulnerability Assessment Tool (VAT) allows our staff to distinguish more objectively the relative vulnerability of the homeless men and women who come to our shelters or whom we otherwise encounter in the community through outreach or referrals. This tool, which has gone through rigorous study and several modifications is comprised of a set of scales, each rating the individual's level of functioning, health, and other specific characteristics relevant to their personal health and safety.

The VAT has become widely recognized by other homeless service providers regionally and nationally, as a viable instrument for determining placement of chronically homeless people into supportive housing. DESC offers training in the use of the VAT to other public and private homeless service agencies. The training includes a detailed manual and interview script. To learn more about the VAT, please click here.

Download an Introduction to the Vulnerability Assessment Tool here.

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