Shelter Plus Care

What Is Shelter Plus Care?

Shelter Plus Care (SPC) is DMH's name for all DMH's Permanent Supportive Housing programs funded by HUD's Continuum of Care (CoC) Program.

SPC provides permanent housing through rental assistance for individuals and families who are homeless and disabled. The goal of SPC is to create long-term housing stability, a return to self-sufficiency, and reintegration with community. Persons in need of assistance are referred to DMH through a CoC's coordinated entry process (see the section below, "Accessing Shelter Plus Care through Coordinated Entry," for more information).

Individuals and families receiving SPC assistance choose their own rental housing, sign their own lease, and pay a maximum of 30% of their income toward their rent. SPC funds, administered by local community housing agencies, pay the balance of the rent. If a household has zero income, SPC pays 100% of the rent. Participating households must work on increasing their incomes through employment or by accessing mainstream resources such as SSI or SSDI, along with non-cash benefits such as SNAP (food stamps), WIC, and TANF services.

SPC also pays for a security deposit up to the value of one month's rent when a household first enters the program. Some households may be eligible for utility assistance as well, depending on income and household size. SPC cannot be used to pay for tenancy application fees, furniture, or other start-up costs.

The DMH Housing Unit manages HUD-funded SPC programs that cover most counties in the state, both urban and rural. The table below gives further information about DMH's SPC grants:

Updated February 2020

Region Grants Number of Households Budgeted to Assist Housing Unit Staff Contact
Kansas City Metro Kansas City Metro 432 Amy Copeland
St. Louis Metro St. Louis Metro 577 Kelli Kemna
Springfield Springfield 17 Edwin Cooper
Joplin Joplin 23 Edwin Cooper
St. Joseph St. Joseph 30 Amy Copeland
Balance of State (rural counties) Southeast MO 38 Edwin Cooper
  Branson 17 Edwin Cooper
  Northeast MO 36 Edwin Cooper
  Jefferson-Franklin 16 Edwin Cooper
  Kirksville 11 Edwin Cooper
  Western MO 39 Edwin Cooper
  Poplar Bluff 23 Edwin Cooper
  West Plains 17 Edwin Cooper
Total   Households: 1276

Who Is Eligible for Shelter Plus Care?

To be eligible for SPC, one person in the household (adult or minor):

  • must have a disability, which can be any of the following conditions: a serious mental illness, a chronic drug or alcohol use disorder, a severe and chronic developmental disability, a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, or a physical disability (see "What Is a Disability?" below, for more information on assessing disability status); and
  • must be homeless as defined by HUD at the time a CoC referral is received by DMH (see "Who Is Homeless?" below, for HUD's definition of homelessness).
  • The household must have a combined income no greater than 50% of the Area Median Income as defined by HUD (see the Shelter Plus Care Operations Manual, Chapter Two, for more information on Area Median Income).

Persons with felony criminal records, including registered sex offenders, are NOT excluded from eligibility. Several DMH SPC programs exclusively assist individuals who are chronically homeless according to HUD's definition of that term. See below for HUD's definition of "chronically homeless."

What Is a Disability?

HUD defines a disability as a condition that 1) is expected to be long-continuing or of indefinite duration; 2) substantially impedes an individual’s ability to live independently; 3) could be improved by the provision of more suitable housing conditions; and 4) is a physical, mental, or emotional impairment, including an impairment caused by alcohol or drug use, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or brain injury. HUD regulations specifically include PTSD, developmental disabilities, AIDS, and HIV infection as disabling conditions.

For Shelter Plus Care eligibility purposes, a person does not need to be receiving Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to qualify as disabled. To establish disability, a person who is licensed by the State of Missouri to diagnose any of the above conditions completes the "Verification of Disability" form in the Shelter Plus Care Eligibility Packet, stating which disability the applicant has. The following professions are appropriately licensed or otherwise recognized by the State of Missouri to sign this form:

  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Licensed Professional Counselor
  • Physician
  • Physician Assistant
  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychologist

A person can also prove they are disabled by documenting that they receive SSI or SSDI income from the Social Security Administration.

Who Is Homeless?

HUD's final rule defining homelessness states:

"Homeless. (1) An individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, meaning:
(i) An individual or family with a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport, or camping ground;"

  • Persons living in substandard housing are not usually considered homeless. To be considered homeless while living in substandard housing, the substandard structure would have to be uninhabitable by humans for including, but not limited to, any of the following reasons: condemned by local government, lacking the ability to have water and power, and/or open to the elements.

"(ii) An individual or family living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state, or local government programs for low-income individuals);"

  • Persons living in a HUD-funded housing program known as a "Safe Haven" are also considered homeless. There are two such programs in Missouri: the Haven in St. Joseph, and the Safe Haven in Kennett.
  • Persons living in transitional housing programs are only considered homeless if their primary nighttime residence immediately prior to moving into the transitional housing program was a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, or an emergency shelter or other form of emergency housing. Persons entering transitional housing from an institutional setting, such as residential drug treatment, must have been in one of those two homeless settings ("street" or shelter) immediately prior to the institutional setting.
  • Self-paid hotel and motel stays, or those paid for family or friends, do not qualify as homelessness. If a hotel/motel stay is paid for by a non-profit agency, government entity, or faith-base organization, it is considered to be emergency housing and qualifies as homelessness.

"(iii) An individual who is exiting an institution where he or she resided for 90 days or less and who resided in an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering that institution."

  • "Institution" includes settings such as a residential drug treatment program, jail, hospital, nursing home, and residential care facility.

“(4) Any individual or family who:
“(i) Is fleeing, or is attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening conditions that relate to violence against the individual or a family member, including a child, that has either taken place within the individual’s or family’s primary nighttime residence or has made the individual or family afraid to return to their primary nighttime residence;
“(ii) Has no other residence; and
“(iii) Lacks the resources or support networks, e.g., family, friends, faith-based or other social networks, to obtain other permanent housing.”

    Documenting Homelessness for DMH's Shelter Plus Care Programs

    HUD's final rule defining homelessness also defines requirements for documenting homelessness (see the link in the section above to HUD's final rule):

    • For an individual or family with a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, provide a written eye-witness account from a case manager, outreach worker or other homeless services worker able to personally verify the head of household’s street homelessness. Describe in as much detail as possible: include locations, dates, and in what way the situation constitutes a place not meant for human habitation. This document must be on agency letterhead, and must be signed and dated by the author.
    • For an individual or family living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements, provide a letter from the shelter facility verifying the date(s) of entry and/or exit and that the head of household currently resides there; or instead of a letter from the shelter, you may provide a printout from a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) showing recorded shelter stays.
    • For an individual or family living in a transitional housing program, provide a letter from the transitional program verifying the date of entry and current residence; and documentation that the head of household was homeless immediately prior to entering the transitional program--either in an emergency shelter or a place not meant for human habitation. This documentation can consist of either a letter from a shelter, an HMIS printout, or a written observation of head of household’s former street homelessness.
    • For an individual who is exiting an institution where he or she resided for 90 days or less and who resided in an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering that institution, provide a signed and dated verification from the institution staff that the applicant has resided there for ninety days or less and is about to exit the institution; and documentation that the head of household was homeless immediately prior to the institutional stay--either in an emergency shelter or living in a place not meant for human habitation. This documentation can consist of either a letter from the shelter, an HMIS printout, or a written observation of head of household’s former street homelessness.
    • For an individual or family fleeing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening condition: if the household is receiving housing or other services from a victim service provider, the victim service provider can certify in writing an oral statement made by the Head of Household that the household is fleeing the above situation; or the Head of Household can make a written certification of their own oral statement. Either certification must include a statement that no subsequent residence has been identified and that the household lacks the resources to do so.
    • If a fleeing household is not receiving housing or other services from a victim service provider, the Head of Household can certify in writing that the household is fleeing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening condition; that no subsequent residence has been identified; and that the household lacks the resources to do so. Where the safety of the household would not be jeopardized, the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening condition must also be verified in a written observation by a housing or service provider, social worker, health-care provider, law enforcement agency, legal assistance provider, pastoral counselor, or any another organization from whom the Household has sought assistance for domestic violence dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

    Who Is Chronically Homeless?

    HUD's final rule defining chronic homelessness states:

    "(1) A 'homeless individual with a disability,' as defined in section 401(9) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11360(9)), who:

    "(i) Lives in a place not meant for human habitation, a safe haven, or in an emergency shelter; and

    "(ii) Has been homeless and living as described in paragraph (1)(i) of this definition continuously for at least 12 months or on at least 4 separate occasions in the last 3 years, as long as the combined occasions equal at least 12 months and each break in homelessness separating the occasions included at least 7 consecutive nights of not living as described in paragraph (1)(i). Stays in institutional care facilities for fewer than 90 days will not constitute as a break in homelessness, but rather such stays are included in the 12-month total, as long as the individual was living or residing in a place not meant for human habitation, a safe haven, or an emergency shelter immediately before entering the institutional care facility;

    "(2) An individual who has been residing in an institutional care facility, including a jail, substance abuse or mental health treatment facility, hospital, or other similar facility, for fewer than 90 days and met all of the criteria in paragraph (1) of this definition, before entering that facility; or

    "(3) A family with an adult head of household (or if there is no adult in the family, a minor head of household) who meets all of the criteria in paragraph (1) or (2) of this definition, including a family whose composition has fluctuated while the head of household has been homeless."

    The final rule changed the prior definition in three ways:

    First, the four episodes over the past three years must now total at least 12 months; so regardless of whether the person has been homeless episodically or continuously, the total amount of time must be at least 12 months.

    Second, HUD reduced some of the ambiguity over what constitutes an "occasion" of homelessness by defining that a break in homelessness must be at least seven nights long; therefore, short occasions of homelessness separated by fewer than seven consecutive nights sleeping in places that don't qualify as homeless mean that such short occasions are all part of a single longer occasion of homelessness. Where it applies, DMH will continue to define a single occasion of homelessness, with defined breaks before and after, as at least seven consecutive nights of sleeping in any of the qualifying settings described above.

    Third, time spent in an institutional setting, up to 90 days and where the person was homeless immediately before they entered the institution, is no longer considered a break in homelessness, but is included in figuring how long a person has been homeless.

    An individual or family currently residing in a transitional housing program is still not considered chronically homeless, even if they have prior homeless history that otherwise fits the definition.

    Accessing Shelter Plus Care Through Coordinated Entry

    HUD defines coordinated entry (CE) as, "a process developed to ensure that all people experiencing a housing crisis have fair and equal access and are quickly identified, assessed for, referred, and connected to housing and assistance based on their strengths and needs." (HUD) All households entering DMH's SPC programs must do so through the CE processes set up by each Continuum of Care (CoC) in the state.

    DMH Housing maintains a directory of all the CE processes in the state of Missouri. The directory is updated whenever changes in CE details are reported to DMH Housing.

    View and download the DMH Coordinated Entry Directory (revised 7/23/20)

    When DMH Housing receives a CE referral, the agency contact person working with the household in need of assistance, or the Head of Household if there is no agency involved, will be asked to submit a Shelter Plus Care Eligibility Packet to DMH Housing. DMH Housing cannot accept Eligibility Packets that don't originate through CE. A DMH Housing Unit staff person will email the Eligibility Packet to the agency contact person or the Head of Household, or or will make alternative arrangements to send a Packet if email is not available to the Head of Household.

    The Head of Household and their service provider, if any, have ten (10) working days to complete an Eligibility Packet and submit it to DMH Housing once it is requested by DMH Housing.

    If you need help completing the Eligibility Packet, email DMH Housing or call 573-751-9206; or call toll-free 800-364-9687 and ask to speak to the Housing Unit Housing Assistant.

    When a household is approved for SPC assistance, the Head of Household (and the support agency contact person, if any) must attend a briefing at a local housing agency that acts as a processing center for DMH. During the briefing, the Head of Household is given information about the rules of the SPC program, where and how to look for a rental unit, and their responsibilities as a future tenant. When the Head of Household locates a suitable unit, the unit is inspected to ensure that it meets HUD's housing quality standards.

    For questions about Shelter Plus Care in specific areas of Missouri, please see the table, above that shows the staff members working with those areas.

    Shelter Plus Care Operations Manual

    The Shelter Plus Care Operations Manual sets out the policies and procedures the DMH Housing Unit follows in the administration of its HUD-funded Shelter Plus Care projects. The Manual is written primarily with processing center staff in mind.  Community Support Workers and the public will find portions of it useful as well. It is written to make these SPC projects as open and transparent as possible.

    Forms in the Manual

    DMH Housing tries to provide all forms required for administering its SPC programs, and all the forms are accessible in the Manual, in Chapter 9. The PDF format of the Manual is not always ideal for copying out the forms and adapting them for each Processing Center's needs, however. Therefore, each form (excluding any found online, such as HUD's forms) can now be downloaded as a Word or Excel file. Click the link below to visit the DMH Housing Forms page.

    DMH Housing Forms

    Updates to the Manual

    DMH Housing updates the Manual whenever changes in state or federal laws or regulations affect the contents; when DMH Housing modifies its own policies or procedures; or when a substantive correction is needed. Substantive changes will be highlighted in red for easier location, and the date of the most current version will be displayed in the download link below. If you notice an error or would like to suggest additional content, please contact the Housing Unit.

    Shelter Plus Care Operations Manual Updated January 21, 2020

    DMH Housing published an updated version of the SPC Operations Manual on January 21, 2020. Updated section headings have an asterisk at the end of the heading, making them searchable if using the Manual as a PDF file (recommended). The major changes in this revision consist of:

    Updated section headings have an asterisk at the end of the heading, making them easily searchable if using the Manual as a PDF file (recommended). The major changes in this revision consist of:

    • Revisions to Chapter 8 regarding the monitoring of Processing Centers.

    Click the link below to open, print, or save the SPC Operations Manual as a PDF file.

    Shelter Plus Care Operations Manual (most current version: January 21, 2020)