Housing first, consumer choice, harm reduction for homeless individuals with a dual diagnosis

Sam Tsemberis

2004

This study examined the longitudinal effects of a Housing First program for homeless, mentally ill individuals on those individuals’ consumer choice, housing stability, substance use, treatment utilization, and psychiatric symptoms. Two hundred twenty-five participants were randomly assigned to receive housing contingent on treatment and sobriety (control) or to receive immediate housing without treatment prerequisites (experimental). Interviews were conducted every 6 months for 24 months.  The experimental group obtained housing earlier, remained stably housed, and reported higher perceived choice. Utilization of substance abuse treatment was significantly higher for the control group, but no differences were found in substance use or psychiatric symptoms. Participants in the Housing First program were able to obtain and maintain independent housing without compromising psychiatric or substance abuse symptoms.

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