The Evidence for Supportive Housing

The variability in housing settings for people with mental illness and the wide range of characteristics in which they differ challenge both the development of research designs on studies of housing outcome and the gen- eralizability of research findings. The scientific evidence for specialized housing for people with mental illness, imperfect though it is,[1] has yielded overwhelming evidence that any type of housing is effective in ending homelessness. Studies that contrast various types of supportive housing reveal few differences in how long people retain their housing (Siegel et al., 2006), despite the fact that the service intensity of a housing setting is associated with markedly different resident characteristics (Lipton et al., 2000). A meta-analysis of 44 housing programs for people with mental illness— categorized as residential care and treatment, residential continuum, and permanent supportive housing—yielded greater housing stability outcomes for all programs compared to usual care or street or shelter living (Leff et al., 2009). An extensive literature on permanent supportive housing yields greater detail on housing stability and the effect of housing on clinical and social outcomes.

  • [1] Limitations in the design and implementation of existing housing studies includepoorly defined service models and control groups, the absence of experimental design,lack of detail on inclusion/exclusion criteria, small samples, and attrition over time(Bentson, 2015; Rog et al., 2014).
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