Causes and Signs of Housing Instability and What You Can Do to Help with Recovery
In the September 2017 issues of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association’s (SAMHSA’s) Practicing Recovery newsletter, resources focus on the causes and signs of housing instability and what you can do to help people who are at risk or experiencing homelessness.
A stable and safe place to live is a critical element to recovery for individuals diagnosed with serious mental illness. “Home” is one of the four major dimensions identified by SAMHSA that support a life in recovery.
In addition, safe and affordable housing is a social determinant of health highlighted in the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Healthy People 2020 program.
The newsletter includes a program spotlight of Mental Health America of Los Angeles (MHA) Village Homeless Assistance Program (HAP.)
Keys to MHA Village’s HAP team include:
- Outreach and engagement
- A drop-in center and
- Case management
Ann Denton, M.Ed., Senior Fellow, Center for Technical Assistance, Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. weighs in as a thought leader. Ann Denton has spent more than 30 years working to advance systems change, provide training, and advocate for the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness.
She has served as the director of SAMHSA’s Homeless and Housing Resource Network (HHRN) and provides leadership, training, and support to other federal homelessness programs.
“People with mental illness are more likely than the general population to experience homelessness or housing instability. In fact, in 2016, one in five people experiencing homelessness had SMI. There are many factors that contribute to this, but one stands out more than any others, according to Ann Denton. If there is a single fact that behavioral health providers should know about housing instability, it is that anyone living on Supplemental Security Income (SSI)—the income that many people with SMI depend on—is at serious risk of homelessness.”
“This is just a grim economic reality,” says Denton. “Regardless of where an individual is in their recovery journey, unstable housing is a poverty issue above all else.”
Suggestions for “What You Can Do” from SAMHSA include:
- Understand Individuals’ Housing and Financial Situations
- Including Housing in Your Treatment Plans
- Ask People What They Want
- Provide Ongoing Support
- Understand that Language Matters