Housing for People with Mental Illness: Update of a Report to the President's New Freedom Commission

A significant barrier to participation in community life for people with serious mental illness is the lack of decent, safe, affordable, and integrated housing of their choice linked with supportive services. The nation's affordable housing and mental health systems have historically failed to address consumers' housing needs and choices. The lack of housing has resulted in disproportionately high rates of homelessness and chronic homelessness. The author summarizes these issues, which were examined by the Subcommittee on Housing and Homelessness of the President's New Freedom Commission, and discusses the subcommittee's recommendations to end chronic homelessness among people with mental illness, expand access to affordable housing resources for consumers, and promote evidence-based practices. There has been uneven progress nationwide in ameliorating the widespread and multidimensional housing and homelessness problems that were exposed in the subcommittee's paper. The permanent supportive housing model, including housing first approaches, has proven effective in preventing and ending homelessness among consumers, but efforts to expand the supply are hampered by significant reductions in federal funds for housing. State and local mental health systems are also struggling to reconfigure service system resources to better address housing and homelessness issues. Apparent reductions in chronic homelessness will be short-lived unless affordable housing policies and mental health services are reoriented to both prevent and end homelessness for people with mental illness. (Author)

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Psychiatric Services