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This project combines supportive housing services and comprehensive wrap-around evidence-based supports to address the housing, health, and behavioral health needs of homeless persons with serious mental illness (SMI) in Orange and Chatham Counties, North Carolina. Our project, called HomeLink, connects participants to (1) stable and affordable housing; (2) enhanced psychosocial rehabilitation targeting independent living skills necessary to maintain stable housing; and (3) enrollment resources for health insurance, Medicaid, and mainstream benefits (e.g. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), etc.). We will accomplish these aims through an assertive outreach team comprised of an Occupational Therapist, Social Worker, Employment/Housing Specialist, and a Peer Support Specialist. The team combines a variety of evidence-based practices (e.g., Housing First, motivational interviewing, management and recovery, dialectical behavior training) to provide direct services and coordinate comprehensive case management with local mental health service providers to serve individuals who are chronically homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. We are collaborating with local mental health service providers and community stakeholders to target (1) individuals who are chronically homeless; (2) individuals in assisted living facilities at risk of becoming homeless; (3) individuals transitioning from institutionalized settings; and (4) individuals receiving assertive community treatment or outpatient services who are unstably housed or at risk of homelessness. HomeLink collaborates with local housing agencies and our local managed care organization – Cardinal Innovations – to access housing and housing vouchers. Currently, routine community mental health services fail to provide skilled assessment and interventions targeting the independent living skills of adults with SMI who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health (CECMH) at UNC-Chapel Hill recognizes that housing and comprehensive health and behavioral health services must be enhanced with occupational therapy to optimize the independent living skills of adults with SMI and reduce homelessness. Accordingly, we are using funds the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Grant # 1H79SM080750-01) to integrate occupational therapy into CECMH services and assertive outreach initiatives. The diversity in race, ethnicity, rural and urban living, income, and education in the CECMH consumer population presents an opportunity to expand our delivery of person-centered and culturally competent care to address housing, physical health, behavioral health and deficits in independent living skills in a cost-effective way that improves the participation and quality of care for individuals with SMI.

Contact Person

Antoine Bailliard, project coordinator,

Investigators and Key Personnel

Thava Mahadevan, (Co-PI)
Gary Cuddeback, Evaluator)

Primary Funding Source

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration