Objective: This study examined the effectiveness of the Pathways to Housing supported housing program over a five-year period. Unlike most housing programs that offer services in a linear, step-by-step continuum, the Pathways program in New York City provides immediate access to independent scatter-site apartments for individuals with psychiatric disabilities who are homeless and living on the street. Support services are provided by a team that uses a modified assertive community treatment model.
Methods: Housing tenure for the Pathways sample of 242 individuals housed between January 1993 and September 1997 was compared with tenure for a citywide sample of 1, 600 persons who were housed through a linear residential treatment approach during the same period. Survival analyses examined housing tenure and controlled for differences in client characteristics before program entry.
Results: After five years, 88 percent of the program's tenants remained housed, whereas only 47 percent of the residents in the city's residential treatment system remained housed. When the analysis controlled for the effects of client characteristics, it showed that the supported housing program achieved better housing tenure than did the comparison group.
Conclusions: The Pathways supported housing program provides a model for effectively housing individuals who are homeless and living on the streets. The program's housing retention rate over a five-year period challenges many widely held clinical assumptions about the relationship between the symptoms and the functional ability of an individual. Clients with severe psychiatric disabilities and addictions are capable of obtaining and maintaining independent housing when provided with the opportunity and necessary supports.