Magazine article The Alcoholism Report

Bill Would Link Housing for Homeless with ADMH Services

Magazine article The Alcoholism Report

Bill Would Link Housing for Homeless with ADMH Services

Article excerpt

Bill Would Link Housing for Homeless With ADMH Services

Congress is beginning to frame housing legislation which includes provisions for alcohol, drug abuse and mental health services for the homeless. Administration legislation, shaped by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Jack Kemp, was introduced in Senate and House, which includes a "Shelter Plus Care" program for the homeless, authorized over three years at a level of $761 million. The overall bill (S-2304, HR-4245), called the Homeownership and Opportunity for People Everywhere (HOPE) Act, carries a multi-billion-dollar price tag and addresses a range of needs, including expanding home-ownership opportunities for low and moderate income families, preservation of low-income housing, housing opportunity zones, and special housing programs for the elderly.

The Shelter Plus Care program would encourage the creation of single-room-occupancy (SRO) housing for the homeless. According to Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY), one of the bill's sponsors, half of the nation's homeless are suffering from mental illness, or alcohol or drug dependency. The goal of the program would be "not to condemn the homeless to a lifetime in shelter care, but to provide those individuals with adequate housing and social services to meet their needs in a comprehensive and coordinated manner," D'Amato told the Senate. "The successful execution of this plan will see many homeless individuals moving from the streets to the support of SROs, and ultimately back to the economic and social mainstream," the Senator added.

The Administration's bill calls for recipients of the federal housing assistance, under the Shelter Plus Care program, to be states, units of general local government, Indian tribes, and public housing agencies. The assistance would be afforded to "homeless individuals who are seriously mentally ill or have chronic problems with alcohol, other drugs, or both." Supportive services would be defined as including health care, mental health services, substance and alcohol abuse services, case management services, counseling, supervision, education, job training and "other services essential for achieving and maintaining independent living." Inpatient acute hospital care would not qualify as a supportive service.

The Shelter Plus Care program would be administered by HUD with provision for consultation with HHS on the services aspects of applications. Agencies receiving housing assistance under the Shelter Plus Care program would be required to match at least an equal amount of funds from other sources, and these matching funds would be used to furnish the supportive services, for which no federal funding is authorized. …

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