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FY 2014 Appropriations: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Federal Policy Brief | September 24, 2013
Files: FY 2014 Appropriations: Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment Services For Homeless Populations (PDF | 382 KB | 1 PAGE)
According to the 2012 data, on any given night, 633,782 people are homeless, and 16 percent of these individuals are defined as chronically homeless. Years of reliable data and research demonstrate that, for families and individuals with complex needs, the most successful intervention for ending and preventing homelessness is linking housing to appropriate support services. Although there is a definite need for more affordable housing, funding the accompanying supportive services is even more difficult. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 2007 report entitled Strategic Action Plan on Homelessness broadened HHS’ efforts to focus on all homeless populations and their need for comprehensive services.
HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) homeless programs fill a gap created by a preference of HUD to fund housing capital need. Therefore, HHS must take responsibility, appropriately so, to fund the critically important services that are necessary for programs to be effective. In the last competition conducted by SAMHSA, the agency received 123 qualified applications, of which the agency was only able to fund 23. The interest and capacity of providers to put these federal dollars to work and end homelessness for thousands of homeless individuals and families should demonstrate to Congress a clear mandate to increase funding for SAMHSA’s homeless programs.
Cost Effectiveness of Services and Housing
• Reduced Health Care Costs. In New York, reduced psychiatric hospitalizations resulted in an annual savings of $8,260 per person. In Denver and Los Angeles, annual reductions in physical health hospitalizations saved of $3,423 and $13,392 per person, respectively.
Current Status and Recommendation
Congress should provide $100 million for SAMHSA homeless programs for essential mental health and substance use treatment services. These grants help chronically homeless families and individuals acquire and maintain permanent supportive housing. In addition, SAMHSA also funds other housing programs targeted to homeless and at-risk families, youth, and individuals. $100 million would allow this initiative to move forward and provide approximately 20 new services grants targeted to proven ways of ending homelessness.