Nearly one-third of homeless individuals also experience a serious mental illness or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder. Without a regular source of healthcare, and burdened with the daily struggle for food and shelter, they are less likely to engage in needed treatment. The intersection of these psychological and environmental conditions can be detrimental to the individual’s healing and to the greater public health.
To address these issues, Texas Department of State Health Services developed Healthy Community Collaboratives (HCC) in five metro areas including San Antonio, Austin, Ft. Worth, Dallas, and Houston. HCC brings individuals, agencies, organizations and community members together to systematically advance issues that could not easily be confronted by one group alone. Each metro is addressing their unique community needs in different ways, but all have developed a coordinated assessment process, provide housing, and engage individuals to participate in mental health or co-occurring treatment services. The goal for participants is recovery and reintegration into their community.
The collaboratives provide a variety of housing supports to individuals such as permanent supportive housing, affordable housing, and rapid rehousing but strives to offer a housing first model that has been successful in other states and has great potential to inform broader statewide policy and program development.
Researchers at TIEMH are evaluating outcomes of the community collaboratives. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, researchers are assessing individual outcome measures such as housing, mental health treatment, substance use treatment, medical services, and services to support employment and employment readiness. They are also developing descriptions of each project site and emerging practices for dissemination in other communities. Researchers also complete ongoing reviews of data for accuracy, quality, validation, and consistency and provide feedback for quality improvement.