Nearly one-third of homeless individuals also experience a serious mental illness. Without a regular source of healthcare, and burdened with the daily struggle for food and shelter, they are less likely to engage in mental health treatment. The intersection of these psychological and environmental conditions can be detrimental to the individual’s healing and to the greater public health. To address these issues, Texas DSHS developed Healthy Community Collaboratives (HCC). This model brings individuals, agencies, organizations and community members together to systematically advance issues that could not easily be confronted by one group alone. The HCC works to improve the access to and quality of care for those who are both homeless and mentally ill by providing a housing first model. The goal for participants is recovery and reintegration into the community.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health (TIEMH) will evaluate these community collaboratives. Through qualitative and quantitative methods, researchers will assess partner agencies on such outcome measures as employment, housing, substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, emergency room services, workforce development activities, and incarceration. Project deliverables include: site analyses, initial summary reports, quarterly reports, interim report, and final summary report. After initially evaluating HCC sites, researchers will complete ongoing reviews of data for accuracy, quality, validation, and consistency. They will also provide plans for quality improvement, recommendations, and comparisons to national norms. In addition, logic models will be used to draw causal links between each collaborative’s early efforts and activities and its short and long-term outcomes.

This research utilizes an innovative community collaborative and housing first model, which offers a unique multi-level approach that builds recovery capital not just with the individual served, but within the community, and has great potential to inform broader statewide policy and program development.