Objectives. We examined the relationship between substance dependence and residential stability in homeless adults with current mental disorders 12 months after randomization to Housing First programs or treatment as usual (no housing or support through the study).

Methods. The Vancouver At Home study in Canada included 2 randomized controlled trials of Housing First interventions. Eligible participants met the criteria for homelessness or precarious housing, as well as a current mental disorder. Residential stability was defined as the number of days in stable residences 12 months after randomization. We used negative binomial regression modeling to examine the independent association between residential stability and substance dependence.

Results. We recruited 497 participants, and 58% (n = 288) met the criteria for substance dependence. We found no significant association between substance dependence and residential stability (adjusted incidence rate ratio = 0.97; 95% confidence interval = 0.69, 1.35) after adjusting for housing intervention, employment, sociodemographics, chronic health conditions, mental disorder severity, psychiatric symptoms, and lifetime duration of homelessness.

Conclusions. People with mental disorders might achieve similar levels of housing stability from Housing First regardless of whether they experience concurrent substance dependence.

Anita Palepu MD, MPH, Michelle L. Patterson PhD, Akm Moniruzzaman PhD, C. James Frankish PhD, and Julian Somers PhD

American Journal of Public Health, December 2013

DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301628

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Housing First Improves Residential Stability in Homeless Adults With Concurrent Substance Dependence and Mental Disorders [2013]