Online Program

Understanding homeless shelter users: Overlap with criminal justice and behavioral health systems

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 12:50 p.m. - 1:10 p.m.

Linda K. Frisman, PhD, School of Social Work, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, University of Connecticut, Hartford, CT
Eleni Rodis, MS, CT Dept Mental Health & Addiction Services, Research Division MS # 14 RSD, Hartford, CT
Hsiu-Ju Lin, PhD, CT Dept Mental Health & Addiction Services, Research Division MS # 14 RSD, Hartford, CT
Francesca Martin, PhD, Solutions4Community, New Haven, CT
Background: Adults who use homeless shelters have a wide variety of characteristics and needs. In order to best identify people who incur high costs through multiple system use and who may benefit from supportive housing, Connecticut records for shelter users are regularly merged with other state administrative records. We sought to describe the nature of behavioral health problems among shelter users, and to examine the impact of interruptions in care on shelter use and criminal justice involvement. Methods: We matched and merged records of 26,000 individual adults who received services in Connecticut shelters during a 3-year period, 2010 – 2012, with administrative files from the CT Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, and from the CT Department of Correction (which covers both jails and prisons). We measured overall rates to of overlap with each system, and between all three systems, and compared each type of user with individual characteristics and patterns of use, especially for individuals who discontinued service use. Results: Approximately 22% of homeless individuals also have records in the correctional system, and 57% have records in the behavioral health system. Shelter users in the behavioral health system have high rates of co-occurring disorders (75.0%), but are especially likely to engage in behavioral health treatment if they have been arrested. The population will be further described with respect to diagnostic categories, type of service use, and the relationship between service interruptions and use of shelters and jails.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the proportions of the homeless shelter users population who are involved with the behavioral health and/or corrections system. Explain the relationship between discontinuing behavioral health treatment and homelessness or jail time.

Keyword(s): Homelessness, Mental Health Services

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the Principal Investigator of several studies involving the intersection of homelessness, mental illness, and criminal justice involvement.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.