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Non-Time-Limited Housing for LGBTQ+ Young Adults

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Spring 2022   


Non-Time-Limited Housing for LGBTQ+ Young Adults

Unlike transitional housing, which provides youth with shelter for a predetermined duration, non-time-limited housing allows young people to develop the life skills and stability needed to live independently without the concern of losing support prematurely. Homeward NYC, launched in 1989, is a New York City nonprofit doing business as West End Intergenerational Residence. Because transitional housing typically lasts a maximum of 2 years, Homeward NYC decided to create housing that gives young people more time to process the trauma of homelessness.1 In response to the growing need to assist LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness because of family rejection and gender-based abuse, Homeward NYC created New York City's first non-time-limited housing site for LGBTQ+ young adults in 2011 in West Harlem. The organization's second non-time-limited housing location opened in the Bronx in 2015.2 Although residents must be aged 18 to 24 to be eligible for housing, they can continue to stay in their units beyond age 25.3 Homeward NYC chief executive officer Jeannette Ruffins explained that even though these sites are permanent supportive housing, the agency prefers the term "non-time-limited housing" because it connotes the expectation that young people will ultimately move on.4

Young adults seeking housing must apply through the city's Human Resources Administration and meet the eligibility criteria for permanent supportive housing under the 2005 NY/NY III agreement — the third and final agreement between New York City and New York State to collectively create approximately 15,000 units of supportive housing.5 Homeward NYC staff also contact the city's Department of Youth and Community Development and other LGBTQ+ service agencies when they have an opening.6 Funded through the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, each of Homeward NYC's non-time-limited housing sites offer furnished efficiency apartments for 30 LGBTQ+ residents.7 Homeward Bronx reserves 22 of its 30 units for NY/NY III population A (single adults suffering from serious mental illness and/or chemical addiction), and Homeward West Harlem reserves 18 of its 30 units for population E (single adults dealing with substance abuse). Across the 2 sites, 7 units are reserved for those who are disabled, and 13 general population units are available to young people without a medical or disabling condition.8 To reduce the extensive waiting lists for these units, a third non-time-limited housing site, Homeward Central Harlem, is slated to open in fall 2023 and will house 50 LGBTQ+ young adults.9

Staff instill the concept of "moving on" in stable residents to help them transition to independent living in an apartment in the community. Staff encourage residents who push back against the rules to think about their future, Ruffins explained. For example, if residents invite their partners to live with them full time, staff encourage them to consider a larger apartment in the community. As young people in the program begin creating long-term plans, they develop an understanding of how to budget for an apartment, develop and maintain good credit, and accrue savings. Residents stay in Homeward NYC's housing for an average of 4 years. In 2021, Homeward NYC served roughly 60 LGBTQ+ young adults at its non-time-limited housing sites, and 12 residents moved to independent housing.10

Staff encourage youth to work at their own pace and use the voluntary onsite services such as behavioral health counseling, benefits advocacy, a medical van, job readiness training, and life skills programs.11 Each site has a clinical care coordinator who uses a harm reduction model to help clients understand how their substance use has interfered with their ability to pay their bills and maintain a job. The sites also have a life skills manager who helps clients develop healthy relationships and set educational and vocational goals. The life skills manager also coordinates with nutritionists and healthcare providers to lead workshops on diet and wellness. Once clients move in and stabilize, they typically increase their income through steady employment; however, pandemic-related job losses among part-time and seasonal workers in the retail and hospitality sectors stymied some of this progress.12

Young people ready to move on from Homeward NYC's housing can receive a housing voucher and community resources to facilitate their stability.13 Ruffins indicated that case managers strive to maintain their connection with young people who have moved on, especially within the first 6 months of exiting. This connection is currently informal, but Homeward NYC is examining the feasibility of creating a formal aftercare component and evaluating how effectively its services maintain clients' long-term stability.14

  1. Interview with Jeannette Ruffins, 14 January 2022; Homeward NYC. "History" ( Accessed 30 December 2021; Homeward NYC. "Annual Reports" ( Accessed 10 January 2022.
  2. Homeward NYC. 2021. "Homeward News: Live Life Forward." Summer, Fall Newsletter; Corporation for Supportive Housing. 2016. "No Strings Attached: Helping Vulnerable Youth with Non-Time-Limited Supportive Housing," 2.
  3. Homeward NYC. "We serve LGBTQ young adults healing from rejection and trauma" ( Accessed 6 January 2022.
  4. Interview with Jeannette Ruffins.
  5. Homeward NYC, "We serve LGBTQ young adults healing from rejection and trauma"; Supportive Housing Network of New York. "NY/NY Agreements." (,housing%20in%20the%20nation's%20history). Accessed 9 February 2022; Center for Urban Community Services Housing Resource Center. 2019. "The NY/NY Agreements to House Homeless Mentally Ill Individuals."
  6. Interview with Jeannette Ruffins.
  7. Ibid; Homeward NYC. "Our Locations" ( Accessed 14 January 2022.
  8. Homeward NYC, "We serve LGBTQ young adults healing from rejection and trauma"; Center for Urban Community Services Housing Resource Center 2019.
  9. Interview with Jeannette Ruffins; Homeward NYC. "Our Locations."
  10. Interview with Jeannette Ruffins.
  11. Colleen K. Jackson. 2012. "True Colors Residence: Permanent Supportive Housing for LGBT youth in New York City," 9.
  12. Interview with Jeannette Ruffins.
  13. Corporation for Supportive Housing 2016, 3.
  14. Interview with Jeannette Ruffins.


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The contents of this article are the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the U.S. Government.