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Homelessness, Addiction and Housing Interventions: What We Don’t Know So Far
Kertesz SK. Homelessness, Addiction and Housing Interventions: What We Don’t Know So Far. Paper presented at: Institute for Homeless Studies at Camillus House Annual Symposium; 2008 Feb 4; Miami, FL.
Cross-sectional survey data from the United States suggest that current-year drug and alcohol problems are present among 38% and 46% of homeless persons, respectively, while 45% have a past year nonaddiction mental health problem (the overlap among these conditions is substantial). Developing housing solutions for homeless individuals with complex psychosocial problems is an important challenge facing the over 300 communities planning to end chronic homelessness in the United States. Of special importance, communities must identify practical approaches to both housing and treatment for homeless persons where addiction is the primary problem. One prominent approach, termed Housing First, offers permanent housing without requiring intensive treatment program participation, and has earned national interest, particularly for clients with severe and persistent mental illness. An alternate “linear” model, positions rehabilitative treatment as prerequisite to long-term housing intervention, and is sometimes identified with as the traditional Continuum of Care approach. This presentation will show that where severe addiction is the primary problem, or a major competing problem, the available research data are inconclusive regarding the relative benefit of a Housing First versus a linear approach.