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.