CHICAGO — The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) recently published a report that details a cutting-edge plan to house and better coordinate health care for people who are homeless, diagnosed with at least one severe mental illness, and have a history of alcohol or substance use.
Under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Chicago Community Consortium (SCCC), AFC brought together leaders from more than 40 organizations in Cook County to shape this strategic plan.
"This SAMHSA strategic plan promises to make a real difference for some of the most vulnerable residents of Cook County," said Bridget Gainer, 10th District Cook County Commissioner. "Working in tandem with innovations like the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, this plan will help bring housing and health care services to our neighbors who've experienced homelessness and struggle with serious mental illness and substance use. What's more, it will save taxpayer dollars."
Public services for one person who is homeless can cost Cook County and the City of Chicago as much as $100,000 per year. Integrating supportive housing and health services has been proven to alleviate suffering while saving taxpayers millions.
The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that approximately 20 to 25 percent of single homeless adults suffer from some form of severe and persistent mental illness. Additionally, up to 50 percent of homeless adults have substance use issues, and one-third has co-occurring diagnoses with both mental health and substance use disorders. These rates rise among homeless veterans, with approximately 76 percent experiencing alcohol, drug, or mental health problems.
"Addressing these challenges requires strong cross-sector collaboration," said Marty Hansen, Community Consortium Associate Director and lead author of the report. "The SAMHSA plan presents a roadmap for tackling the human and financial costs of homelessness in Cook County."
AFC published both the full report online, as well as an abridged version. If you have any questions regarding the report or SCCC, please contact Hansen at (312) 334-0947 or MHansen@aidschicago.org .
If you would like to speak with a participating member of the strategic plan's steering committee, please contact:
Sue Augustus, Chief Operating Officer at Health & Disability Advocates, (312) 223-9600 ext. 9093,SAugustus@hdadvocates.org .
Michael Banghart, Executive Director at Renaissance Social Services, (773) 645-8900 ext. 108.
Dr. Nonie Brennan, CEO at the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness,NBrennan@thechicagoalliance.org .
Founded in 1985 by community activists and physicians, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago is a catalyst for local, national, and international action against HIV/AIDS.