Homelessness Toolkit

I. Introduction
State mental health planning and advisory councils have a federal mandate to advocate for persons with mental illness, including those individuals who have mental illness and are experiencing homelessness. The Mental Health Performance Partnership Block Grant (MHSBG) specifically requests the state and the planning council to describe state outreach activities and services to persons that are experiencing homelessness.

The National Association of Mental Health Planning and Advisory Councils (NAMHPAC) exists so that planning and advisory councils have the resources needed to fulfill their missions. This Homelessness Toolkit provides a wide range of resources to aid mental health planning and advisory councils in their efforts to advocate for an increase in housing and services to the homeless population with mental illness. This resource was made possible by support from the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) at SAMHSA.

This toolkit will assist you and/or your planning council with:

  • Convening a planning council meeting on advocacy and/or services to meet the needs of the homeless;
  • Finding agency, organization and coalition contacts;
  • Educating yourself and/or your planning council on issues around mental health and homelessness, including current trends, model programs and evidence-based practices;
  • Researching how other states have gone about addressing issues of mental illness and homelessness;
  • Searching for easy to understand and use materials to assist you in understanding the PATH formula grant program


II. Meeting Planning
A. Planning Council Sample Agenda
This sample agenda can be used as a model for how to set up a planning council meeting where issues of
homelessness and mental illness will be discussed.


B. Action Planning Materials
1. "Addressing the Needs of Homeless Persons with Co-occurring Mental Illnesses and Substance Use Disorders," prepared by SAMHSA.

This document summarizes information useful for state mental health planning councils as they prepare service plans, address critical policy issues, develop/modify treatment approaches, and develop training and technical assistance programs.

2. "Creating Successful Systems Integration Strategies: Lessons from the ACCESS Program for Mentally Ill Homeless Persons" by Joseph J. Cocozza, Ph.D., Henry J. Steadman, Ph.D., Deborah L. Dennis, M.A.

This paper focuses on the ACCESS program, including effective systems integration strategies and implementation of these strategies.

3. "A Housing Toolkit: Information to help the public mental health community meet the housing needs of people with mental illness," prepared by NAMI.

This toolkit provides information to those interested in creating housing for individuals with mental illnesses. It includes fact sheets detailing resources available to finance the creation of new housing and suggests new ways to think about housing models.

4. "A Dozen Lessons Learned," (taken from "Opening the Door: Philadelphia Plan to End Homelessness)" prepared by The Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness.

Compiled wisdom from community organizations working to combat homelessness.


III. Resource Materials
A. Background Information--Housing
1. "Federal Housing Assistance and Welfare Reform: Uncharted Territory" by G. Thomas Kingsley.

This article provides a historical account and explanation of different Federal Housing Programs.

2. "Reductions in Section 8 Reserves in House and Senate VA-HUD Bills Will Likely Reduce the Number of Families the Voucher Program Serves," by Barbara Sard, Suzanne Walsh, and Robert Greenstein.

This article explains voucher housing and section 8 housing programs. It focuses on proposed budget cuts to the housing assistance programs by Congress, and it gives a list of reasons why these programs are so important.

3. "EDC-14. Affordable Housing Policy," prepared by the National Governors Association.

This document states the National Governors Association Policy Position on different housing issues such as rental assistance, existing programs, data tracking systems, homeless programs, and manufactured housing regulations.

4. "HUD's HOME Program: Can it Really Work for People with Disabilities," by Marie Herb and Ann O'Hara.

From an "Opening Doors" issue, this paper informs the disability community about the HOME program, how it works, and how it can be used to expand affordable housing for people with disabilities.

5. "Housing Programs" prepared by NMHA

This NMHA fact sheet explains different housing programs.

6. "The McKinney Act," prepared by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH).

This NCH fact sheet describes the history, content, evolution, and recent trends of the federal programs created under the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987.

7. "Evolution of Federal Housing Assistance Programs," prepared by the General Accounting Office (GAO).

This document reviews the creation and evolution of different federal housing assistance programs.

8. "Olmstead and Supportive Housing: A Vision for Future," by Ann O'Hara and Stephen Day.

This document contains an explanation of the landmark Olmstead case, a basic primer on supportive housing, and a review of states' recent Olmstead planning efforts.


B. Background Information/Homelessness and Service Programs
1. "Stopping the Revolving Door of Homelessness," by Carla Javits and Sandra Hernandez.

This article discusses the cycle whereby homeless individuals with mental illnesses are sent from the streets to shelters to jail and back again. It also cites statistics showing how the provision of quality service to this population is a financially sound decision.

2. "Highlights from 'Homelessness: Programs and the People They Serve'," prepared by the Interagency Council on the Homeless at HUD.

Highlights from this study provide information about the providers of homeless assistance and the characteristics of homeless persons who use services.

3. "Public Service Reductions Associated with Placement of Homeless Persons with Severe Mental Illness in Supportive Housing", published by the Fannie Mae Foundation.

This study illustrates the public service cost savings associated with the placement of homeless persons with severe mental illness in supportive housing. It also quantifies the cost of keeping mentally ill people on the streets.

4. Fact Sheets, including: (1)"Recommendation for rent-based work incentive programs," (2) "Homelessness: Revieiwing the Facts," and (3) "Homelessness Information Links."


C. Contacts
1. 2002 PATH State Contacts, www.pathprogram.com/contacts. A list of contacts broken down by state for the PATH Program.

2. List of Statewide Homeless Coalition Contacts, prepared by NMHA. A list of Homeless Coalitions in each state. This version was updated in June of 2002.

3. National Organizations Concerned with Mental Health, Housing, and Homelessness. Published in March 2002.


D. Sample Continuum of Care/Block Grant Plans
1. Monroe, LA, www.hud.gov/ptw/docs/la0198.html

This document contains a description, program results, funding, and contacts for Monroe's Continuum of Care Program, the Fairhaven Homeless Shelter, which is a 16-bed, emergency shelter for mentally ill adults.

2. Baltimore, MD, www.hud.gov/ptw/docs/md0198.html

This document contains a description, program results, funding, and contacts for Baltimore's Continuum of Care Program, The Opportunity Fair, which links Maryland's homeless with supportive services that can help them overcome barriers to self-sufficiency.

3. Ventura, CA, www.hud.gov/ptw/docs/ca4698.html

This document contains a description, program results, funding, and contacts for Ventura's Continuum of Care Program, which consists of six county service providers.

4. Examples of Criterion 4 of Block Grant Plans

Includes full description of Criterion 4 in the Block Grant Plans from Colorado, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Nevada.