Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

17221 Quality of Life for Persons with Psychiatric Diagnoses Transitioning From Homelessness to Independent Housing

Friday, January 13, 2012: 10:00 AM
Independence D (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Jason Matejkowski, PhD, Associate Research Scientist, Treatment Research Institute, Philadelphia, PA
Benjamin Henwood, PhD, Research Scientist, New York University, New York, NY
Background and Purpose: Housing First programs effectively end homelessness for persons with psychiatric disabilities by providing immediate access to independent apartments in the community along with community support services. Rather than a group living situation or apartments located in a single-site building, renting scattered-site apartments available to anyone is believed to facilitate community integration and increase one's quality of life. This study examines those individuals who recently transitioned from homelessness to permanent, apartment living in the community and asks: does quality of life improve as housing tenure increases? And, is increased community involvement associated within an increase in one's quality of life?

Methods: The study involved 80 people served by a Housing First program that began in the fall of 2008. All new enrollees were invited to participate in structured interviews at intake and at 12-months post-housing. These interviews included eight quality of life subjective scales, four quality of life objective scales and a community involvement measure. T-tests assessed differences in quality of life measures at the two time points. Where these bivariate tests indicated significant differences, multiple regression models that controlled for basic demographics and psychiatric symptoms were then used to test relationships among community involvement and quality of life indicators. All protocols were approved by the Housing First's agency Institutional Review Board.

Results: Participants' subjective satisfaction with their living situations, family relations and finances were all significantly increased at 12-months (p < .05). Increases in general life satisfaction trended towards significance (p < .10). Participants' frequency of social contacts and adequacy of financial resources were also significantly increased at 12-months (p < .05). Of these six quality of life indicators, clients' level of community involvement was positively associated with general life satisfaction, satisfaction with living situation and frequency of social contacts.

Conclusions and Implications: Findings show that quality of life improves during the year after transitioning from homelessness to permanent, independent housing, which speaks to honoring consumer preference for normalized housing settings in the community. Living in an apartment may in itself facilitate community involvement which leads to improved quality of life, although increased quality of life may also contribute to greater involvement. Either way, more research is needed on how Housing First programs can maximize participants' integration into newly acquired community settings and improve the quality of life for the people they serve.

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