According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 2017 Point in Time Count, there were 408,150 people experiencing homelessness in the United States. Additionally, 201,235 of that group reported experiencing severe mental illness or a chronic substance use problem. In Texas, the 2017 HUD Point in Time Count found 23,548 people experiencing homelessness including 9,506 who were experiencing severe mental illness or a chronic substance use problem.
Senate Bill 58 of the 83rd Texas Legislature authorized the creation of “Community Collaboratives” and served as the basis for Healthy Community Collaborative programs. A Healthy Community Collaborative (HCC) seeks to help people experiencing homelessness who have a serious mental illness or who have a mental illness and a co-occuring substance use disorder. An HCC aims to reduce barriers to treatment by forging a collaborative to work together to provide housing and then fully coordinate recovery oriented mental health and substance use care. This approach is based on the housing first model.
“Our philosophy has really been walking with people and being really intensively involved. So setting up the appointments with them, going with them, transporting them….Walking alongside someone through this whole process…..this journey to restore what they’ve missed out on – what’s been taken away through homelessness.” Case Manager at HCC site
“Once they’re in the house, and they’re able to think about other things, that’s when the mental health skills training, or whatever their goals they identified are. That’s when they can really focus on that.” Case Manager at HCC site
Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHSC) has developed Healthy Community Collaboratives (HCC) in four metro areas. HCC brings individuals, agencies, organizations and community members together to systematically advance issues that could not easily be confronted by one group alone.
San Antonio, Austin, Ft. Worth, Dallas, are each addressing their unique community needs in different ways, but each area has developed a coordinated assessment process to provide housing and to engage individuals to participate in mental health or co-occurring treatment services. Communities use housing interventions such as permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing.
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, among others. 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.