Housing First

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In the yearlong special reporting project Housing First, NPR News explores the housing dilemmas of Americans with special needs -- and how lack of housing can stymie their efforts to join mainstream society.
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A Safe Place for Homeless Women
SafePlace residents NPR's Joe Shapiro reports on a unique shelter for homeless women and their families in Austin, Texas, that gives the women a second chance at an independent life by teaching them "life skills" and providing a real place to live.

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A Homeless Shelter for Alcoholics
Housing First Most homeless shelters turn away chronic alcoholics if they won't stop drinking. But in the harsh winters of northern cities, that can be a death sentence. NPR's Joanne Silberner profiles a community group in Minneapolis, Minn., that has pioneered a new approach -- longer-term housing, where residents can drink every day.

Rising Rents for the Disabled
Housing First For nearly four million poor people with severe disabilities, a new report by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities says that a key government subsidy has not kept pace with rising rents. NPR's Joseph Shapiro reports that the result is many people end up in sub-standard housing, or sometimes living in unexpected places.

Farm Worker Housing in California
Migrant farm worker Southern California's Coachella Valley is an incredibly fertile area carved out of the desert east of Palm Springs. But despite the abundance, most of the men and women who harvest the crops there have no decent place to live. NPR's Ina Jaffe reports on the decline of housing for migrant workers, and one community's attempt to address the shortage.

The Collector of Bedford Street
Selman and Elliot It's a common story across the country -- somebody with mental retardation moves in, and the neighbors are uncomfortable. But in one New York City neighborhood, residents have taken extraordinary steps to make sure they keep their neighbor with mental retardation. NPR's Joseph Shapiro reports on the unique life of Larry Selman, and the efforts by his neighbors to keep Selman a part of the community.

Rehabilitation in Cape Cod
Artist's rendering of Dana's Fields in Cape Cod. Ben Gilbert reports from the scenic Cape Cod town of Sandwich, Mass. People there are torn over one woman's dream to create a rehabilitation facility for the homeless on a village-like compound built on a 50-acre farm within the city limits. The Massachusetts "anti-snob" zoning law could help her realize her vision -- but some residents vow to fight the plan to the finish.

HOPE's Promise of Better Housing
Mission housing development, Boston NPR's Cheryl Corley reports from Boston on the controversy over a federal program to redevelop public housing. The HOPE VI program has had some success turning around crumbling neighborhoods, but critics say the program is also used to clear desirable land for high-rent construction -- and leave longtime residents without a home.

Rents Go Up in 'Discovered' Venice Beach
Susanne Chilton NPR's Ina Jaffe reports on what happens to the poor and elderly when their neighborhood becomes an up-and-coming "hip" destination for more affluent residents. In the once gritty neighborhood of Venice Beach, Calif., low-cost housing is drying up and newly rehabilitated apartments are commanding jaw-dropping prices.

Housing for the Poor vs. Landlord Rights
Kenneth Tinney For the poorest of the poor, making the monthly rent is still a struggle, and owning a home remains a dream. Now, many of America's neediest face a crisis: Funding has declined for a 40-year-old federal program to bring affordable rental housing to poor people in rural areas. NPR's Madeleine Brand reports that some landlords want out of the program -- leaving the tenants with nowhere to go.

Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes
Carolyn McCoy and Doreen Sparks In the latest installment of NPR's series on finding homes for people who need support and services, NPR's Joe Shapiro reports on the problem elderly residents of so-called assisted living facilities have when they are forced into nursing homes because of their special medical needs and government regulations.

Tales of New Beginnings
Lorena Millions of the neediest Americans are desperate for a safe place to live -- but face countless hurdles in securing it. Reporter Reed Karaim completes his NPR online-exclusive serial, Tales of New Beginnings, with a success story. Three years before, Lorena was homeless and fleeing domestic violence with her two children. Now she is the very proud owner of a three-bedroom, two-bath ranch home in a nice part of Tucson, Ariz.

For AIDS Sufferers, a Housing Challenge
AIDS Housing For people with AIDS and HIV, having a home could be the difference between life and death. Small things matter -- for instance, drugs to treat infection often need refrigeration. Homelessness could mean death. WNYC's Beth Fertig talks to activists and organizers fighting to provide shelter for some of the nation's most vulnerable and needy people.

For Teen Moms, Just a Start
Theresa Major and son Sergio Finding housing solutions has an obvious payoff for those looking for shelter. But thereís a payoff for society as well. With the help of an innovative program that provides housing, schooling, job training and parenting skills, teen mothers are trying to break the cycle of abuse and neglect that often causes them to repeat their own mothers' troubled histories. Hear Tovia Smith's report on All Things Considered, Aug. 13, 2002.

'Liberty' for the Disabled
Dawn Brown leaves her nursing home Many of the best solutions to the housing problem come not from national or state programs, but from the home-grown efforts of inspired activists. In Kansas, Mike Oxford snuck a woman out of a nursing home a decade ago (and others in following years) and eventually won the grudging approval of the state to get more people out. With aggressive, sometimes abrasive tactics, he's now helping not just young disabled, but elderly and people with mental illness too. Hear Joe Shapiro's report on All Things Considered Aug. 6, 2002.

The 'Not In My Back Yard' Debate
Rocky Waters In a once down-and-out Pittsburgh neighborhood, a church-sponsored group quietly rented four apartments and moved in four mentally-ill homeless men. The neighborhood clash that resulted shows that the so-called "NIMBY" response isnít always a black-and-white matter. Hear Joanne Silberner's report on All Things Considered. July 30, 2002.

For Foster Youth, Homes to Grow Into
Steve Rodriguez With one of the tightest housing markets in the country, Orange County, Calif., is a tough place for foster youth "aging out" of the system to find homes of their own. But savvy businessmen there are creating housing that meets these 18-year-oldsí needs -- and helps them avoid the looming risks of homelessness, drug abuse and crime. Hear Ina Jaffe's report for All Things Considered. July 23, 2002.

Recovering Addicts, Playing by House Rules
Oxford House Through a program that helps set up group homes for recovering alcoholics and drug abusers, William and David became close friends. But their friendship, like their sobriety, has been tested. Hear Joe Shapiro's report for All Things Considered. July 16, 2002.

Who Needs Housing? Millions of Americans
Photo: National Coalition for the Homeless At the heart of the American dream lies the idea of home. But at the same time, the dream of home has proven illusory for millions of Americans with special needs or challenging circumstances. Among them are the mentally and physically disabled, and the mentally ill; women fleeing abuse, and young adults leaving foster care; ex-offenders, homeless people, and recovering substance abusers. NPR Online examines their housing dilemmas through in-depth reports, images, video, audio and art.