Nonprofit Newswire | A Study to Watch—Does Housing First Work With Mentally Ill?

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August 25, 2010; Source: | In Vancouver, Canada, 100 chronically homeless people will check into the Bosman Hotel Community as part of a research project being run by the Mental Health Commission of Canada to test the value of the Housing First approach for people with mental illness and substance abuse issues. The 100 residents will receive a furnished room and food for a maximum of three years, and once they are housed, they will receive treatment. Five hundred people were considered for the rooms at the repurposed inn against the 100 chosen. The other four hundred will act as a control group. Half of this control group will receive treatment services without housing and half will be housed in scattered sites. This is one of five locations across Canada where the study will be carried out—more than 2,000 will participate. However you may feel about Housing First, it is rare to see a research project of this size and apparent cost carried out. We would love to hear your feelings about it!—Ruth McCambridge

  • Bill Pitkin

    A recent op-ed in the LA Times by Jon Morgenstern, Vice President of and Director of Treatment Research at CASA and Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, highlights initial findings from their study of 500 persons in housing first units in NYC.,0,6569787.story

    He concludes that “evidence to date supports housing first for active substance abusers as a helpful solution to chronic homelessness and a possible cost-saver.”

  • Ann Barnum

    I am looking forward to the results of the Housing First study in Canada. We at the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati have recently funded a housing first project for chronically homeless, public inebriates. Our grant is partnered with a SAMHSA grant which provides supportive services for these individuals both in a 25-unit permanent housing facility and in 35 scattered site apartments. It will be interesting to see how our results compare to those in Canada even though our project is much smaller.

  • Yves Ades, Ph.D.

    As a developer and operator of Supportive Housing for people with
    > mental illness and co-morbid substance abuse disorders, a study of this scope that addresses the “one size fits all” assumptions of “Housing First” is, both, long overdue and very timely. The “Housing First” model is very appealing to many because it is a relatively inexpensive (compared to its institutional alternatives) solution to homelessness. This appeal has been so powerful as to steer public policy in a wholesale adoption of the model without any real inquiry into its efficacy for people whose active symptoms, behaviors and lifestyles may require a different housing model to promote successful community reintegration.
    >I look forward to the results of this study which is certain to add
    > significantly to our knowledge regarding what works and what doesn’t in the world of recovery based housing and supports for people with mental illness.

    >Yves Ades, Ph.D.
    Senior Vice President
    >Services for the Underserved, Inc.