Making the Business Case for Supportive Housing

From 2005 to 2007, the National Center on Family Homelessness evaluated Hearth Connection's Supportive Housing and Managed Care Pilot, begun in 2001 in two counties in Minnesota. The pilot organized the delivery of affordable housing, health care and social services for 748 single adults and adults with children facing chronic homelessness, worsened by mental illness, addiction, health problems and histories of abuse.

Key Findings:

  • Pilot participants reported much greater housing stability nine months after joining the program, and they sustained that stability after 18 months. Participants also reported fewer mental health symptoms, reduced use of alcohol and drugs, a greater sense of safety and improved quality of life. However, they did not report better physical health after 18 months, as most had entered the program with serious, unaddressed health needs.
  • The pilot spurred a desirable shift in the types of publicly funded services used by participants, but it had less impact on the overall cost of those services.

Key Conclusion:

  • Although shifts in service use often did not reduce near-term costs, they addressed the underlying causes of homelessness and could ultimately reduce financial and social costs that could stretch over generations.

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