SMART Program

The SMART program is a housing transition program intended to help sheltered adults gain needed skills for supported housing. The program was created by Dr. Sharon A. Gutman and Dr. Emily I. Raphael-Greenfield with assistance from Columbia University Occupational Therapy students.

The program consists of 6 videos:

  1. Module 1: Preparing for the Housing Interview
  2. Module 2: Apartment Living
  3. Module 3: Being a Good Tenant and Neighbor
  4. Module 4: Community Living
  5. Module 5: Managing Money
  6. Module 6: Maintaining Health and Well Being

These videos are copyrighted by Columbia University but are free to download for use by students and practitioners.

Each video was designed to run independently with designated pauses during which a facilitator can engage participants in discussion, role-play, and hands-on functional activities that allow practice of skills presented in the videos. Each video has a corresponding instructor manual that is a script of the video and allows facilitators to understand when the video should be paused to engage participants in discussion, role-play, or activity. Directions for discussion, role-play, and activities are listed in detail in the appendices of each instructor manual. Videos allow for the integration of audiovisual learning, hands-on practice, and facilitator consultation. In each video, digital screen images are overlaid with verbal narration and minimal printed words to support comprehension. Videos are intended to be used with groups or individuals.

Module 1: Housing Interview Skills

Many shelter residents must participate in a housing interview in which they are asked to demonstrate their readiness for transition to supportive housing.

This module addresses the need to:

  • use appropriate self-care and hygiene skills before the interview
  • arrive to the interview on time and in appropriate clothing
  • answer difficult questions about the client’s past (such as incarceration and substance use)
  • appropriately use eye contact, facial expressions, body language, and posture
  • advocate for oneself
  • avoid substance use before the interview

Module 1 Housing Interview

Module 1 Facilitator Manual

Module 2: Apartment Living Skills

In this module, participants learn about and practice the skills needed to maintain supportive apartment living either independently or with a roommate:

  • apartment cleaning strategies (including using appropriate cleaners and maintaining regularly scheduled cleaning sessions)
  • apartment organization strategies (for clothing, furniture, important documents, self-care products, and medication)
  • food storage in the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry
  • clothing laundering
  • rent and bill paying getting along with roommates and negotiating conflict
  • using safety strategies in an apartment

Module 2

Module 2 Facilitator Manual

Module 3: Being a Good Tenant and Neighbor

In the third module, participants learn about and practice the skills needed to live cooperatively and peacefully with neighbors and interact appropriately with supers and landlords:

  • understanding what it means to be a respectful neighbor:
    • maintaining the cleanliness of common areas
    • making sure that the building front entrance is always locked
    • refraining from allowing entrance of unfamiliar people
    • keeping noise levels to a minimum
    • holding elevator doors open for neighbors
  • being able to appropriately introduce oneself to neighbors
  • understanding how to negotiate conflict with neighbors
  • understanding when it is appropriate to contact supers or landlords for help and how to interact with them
  • understanding that rent and utilities must be paid on time

Module 3

Module 3 Facilitator Manual

Module 4: Community Living

Many clients feel isolated once they transition from the shelter to supportive housing. Because clients often experience post-traumatic stress disorder from homelessness and frequently have a past of conflicted relationships, many do not reintegrate into the community and remain isolated in their apartments. Module 4 helps clients:

  • explore their new neighborhood
  • identify most important places in the neighborhood, such as post office, grocery stores, discount stores, laundromats, pharmacies
  • identify free community activities of interest including parks, museums, zoos, and YMCAs
  • learn safety skills to negotiate urban streets and subways

Module 4

Module 4 Facilitator Manual

Module 5: Managing Money

Many clients never learned money management skills and struggle with bill payments once they transition to supportive housing. Module 5 helps clients learn about and practice the basic skills of money management:

  • examining spending habits
  • adhering to a budget
  • modifying budgets when financial needs change
  • paying bills on time
  • learning saving strategies:
    • using bank saving and checking accounts
    • using store coupons and bonus saving cards
    • using thrift and second hand stores
    • using debit instead of credit cards 
  • learning strategies to protect oneself from identity theft and scams

Module 5

Module 5 Facilitator Manual

Module 6: Health and Wellness

Many clients have not had adequate medical care throughout their lives and, as a result of homelessness, have prematurely aged and have chronic medical conditions that impact daily life. This module helps clients to understand:

  • the components of health and wellbeing (e.g., physical, emotional, mental, spiritual)
  • how to maintain physical health through diet and exercise
  • how to facilitate restful sleep habits
  • the need for regular medical care and screenings to prevent and manage illness
  • managing chronic health conditions
  • medication management
  • the importance of smoking cessation
  • stress management health literacy skills (understanding medication labels and accessing health information)
  • how to enact a wellness recovery action plan if and when mental health symptoms return

Module 6

Module 6 Facilitator Manual