For a number of years, Community Connections has examined the complex set of challenges homeless individuals diagnosed with severe mental health problems frequently bring to services in supportive housing. Our current initiative is described in more detail when you click title below.
Creating Communities: A Response to Chronic Homelessness (2007 - present)
The Creating Communities project provides a comprehensive package of evidence-based services for chronically homeless individuals with severe mental disorders in the District of Columbia. The purpose of Creating Communities is to assist these individuals find and keep stable housing by providing integrated services embedded in a residential community enriched by professional and peer support.
This project is based on lessons learned from a multi-year pilot project designed to develop safe, recovery-centered residential communities for the target population. Because chronically homeless individuals diagnosed with severe mental health problems frequently bring a complex set of additional challenges to services in supportive housing—substance abuse, unemployment, criminal justice involvement—an integrated and comprehensive set of services is necessary in response to these interrelated concerns.
Creating Communities offers three evidence-based practices embedded in a set of extensive community supports based in seven housing sites, the residential recovery communities. A newly developed Residential Community Intensive Case Management (RCICM) team provides numerous supportive services and actively links participants to other needed supports. Through this team, Creating Communities offers expanded access to (1) Co-Occurring Disorders: Integrated Dual Disorders Treatment; (2) Illness Management and Recovery; and (3) Supported Employment. All three of these services are evidence-based practices already recognized widely by the field and by SAMHSA. The supportive context for these services is strengthened by the work of Residential Community Facilitators whose task is to assist each residential community to develop the characteristics needed to enhance the recovery of its residents. These services, offered with RCICM coordination and in uniquely supportive residential settings, are expected to help participants access and maintain stable housing by reducing mental health symptoms and substance abuse; by strengthening recovery skills; by increasing consistent income from employment and stabilizing benefits; and by assisting tenant-consumers to participate in safer, less drug-using, healthier networks. The RCICM team arranges for all other necessary supports in each Individual Recovery Plan, including psychiatric services and physical health care. Very importantly, the RCICM team also addresses the factors for each individual that have prompted previous housing loss and devise a Residential Wellness Recovery Action Plan. Community Connections has partnered with the Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center to conduct a process and outcome evaluation of Creating Communities that uses both quantitative and qualitative/ethnographic methods appropriate for understanding this project. In addition to the outcomes noted above, the evaluation tracks the process of service implementation, including fidelity to the treatment models. Feedback from consumers and evaluators will shape project implementation on a continuous basis.
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