The journal of mental health administration

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 291-305

First online:

Housing costs for adults who are mentally ill and formerly homeless

  • Barbara DickeyAffiliated withMcLean Hospital
  • , Eric LatimerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, McGill UniversityDepartment of Economics at McGill University
  • , Karen PowersAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston
  • , Olinda GonzalezAffiliated withDivision of State and Community Services Development Center for Mental Health Services
  • , Stephen M. GoldfingerAffiliated withHarvard University

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The goal of this study was to evaluate the costs, under two different housing conditions, to the state mental health agency of caring for adults who are homeless and mentally ill. One hundred and twelve clients of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, living in psychiatric shelters, were randomly assigned to one of two housing types: Evolving Consumer Households or Independent Living apartments. For the next 18 months each client was followed so that the cost of treatment, case management, and housing could be collected and compared. The authors found that treatment and case management costs did not vary by housing type, but housing costs were significantly higher for those assigned to Evolving Consumer Households. Regardless of original housing assignment, treatment costs were lower for clients who remained where they were originally placed. The authors conclude that providing support for clients that increases housing stability reduces their need for treatment and that independent living arrangements may be a more costeffective policy choice.