Where Homeless Meets Crazy

Housing First Can Help Mentally Ill Stay Housed

Tanya Marie LuhrmannA November 6, 2015 New York Times Op-Ed piece, “Where Homeless Meets Crazy” contrasts the cultural differences between how the homeless mentally ill are treated in India vs. the United States.

In India, an organization called the Banyan assists homeless mentally ill woman rebuild their lives.

Writes Tanya Marie Luhrmann, a professor of anthropology at Stanford University, “The challenge for the Banyan is to enable women to be useful to families who may not accept them back if they cannot work. In our country, it’s different.”

In New York City, due to a lack of a comprehensive mental health system, many mentally ill people experience homelessness and cycle between the street and jails and prisons. “They distrust help, and they have learned that they should never admit to being ill.”

Among the very high number of the homeless in New York City, many have chronic mental illness. Luhurmann points to Housing First as a model that helps the mentally ill homeless stay housed.

“To reach the people who need our help we need to understand what it means to be crazy in their world.”

Click here for the full op-ed piece.

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