From the Streets to Homes

Having a decent and safe place to live in is a basic human need, and adequate housing is an essential element in the recovery of people with psychiatric disabilities (Corrigan et al., 2008; Padgett, 2007). In spite of nearly universal agreement on the need for housing solutions to homelessness, the presence of people without homes wandering the streets of cities and towns across the United States has been unremitting in the era of community treatment.

The persistent poverty found among homeless people with psychiatric disabilities and the limitations of their public entitlements make it impossible to support the cost of even the most modest community dwelling. In 2016, the average monthly entitlement income for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients was $733 (Social Security Administration, 2016), an amount far below the federal poverty level (Martone, 2014). Lacking a stable residence, people with severe mental illness are more likely to cycle in and out of homeless shelters, jails, emergency departments, and psychiatric inpatient facilities. This chapter will describe how homelessness spurred the development of an array of specialized housing for people with severe mental illness by innovative providers, nonprofit organizations, and governmental agencies, innovations that consider the limited resources of disabled individuals and their need for long-term access to treatment and support services.

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