Importance: In the At Home/Chez Soi trial for homeless individuals with mental illness, the scattered-site Housing First (HF) with Intensive Case Management (ICM) intervention proved more effective than treatment as usual (TAU).
Objective: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the HF plus ICM intervention compared with TAU.
Design, setting, and participants: This is an economic evaluation study of data from the At Home/Chez Soi randomized clinical trial. From October 2009 through July 2011, 1198 individuals were randomized to the intervention (n = 689) or TAU (n = 509) and followed up for as long as 24 months. Participants were recruited in the Canadian cities of Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal. Participants with a current mental disorder who were homeless and had a moderate level of need were included. Data were analyzed from 2013 through 2019, per protocol.
Interventions: Scattered-site HF (using rent supplements) with off-site ICM services was compared with usual housing and support services in each city.
Main outcomes and measures: The analysis was performed from the perspective of society, with days of stable housing as the outcome. Service use was ascertained using questionnaires. Unit costs were estimated in 2016 Canadian dollars.
Results: Of 1198 randomized individuals, 795 (66.4%) were men and 696 (58.1%) were aged 30 to 49 years. Almost all (1160 participants, including 677 in the HF group and 483 in the TAU group) contributed data to the economic analysis. Days of stable housing were higher by 140.34 days (95% CI, 128.14-153.31 days) in the HF group. The intervention cost $14 496 per person per year; reductions in costs of other services brought the net cost down by 46% to $7868 (95% CI, $4409-$11 405). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was $56.08 (95% CI, $29.55-$84.78) per additional day of stable housing. In sensitivity analyses, adjusting for baseline differences using a regression-based method, without altering the discount rate, caused the largest change in the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio with an increase to $60.18 (95% CI, $35.27-$86.95). At $67 per day of stable housing, there was an 80% chance that HF was cost-effective compared with TAU. The cost-effectiveness of HF appeared to be similar for all participants, although possibly less for those with a higher number of previous psychiatric hospitalizations.
Conclusions and relevance: In this study, the cost per additional day of stable housing was similar to that of many interventions for homeless individuals. Based on these results, expanding access to HF with ICM appears to be warranted from an economic standpoint.
Trial registration: isrctn.org Identifier: ISRCTN42520374.