Alcohol, drug, and mental health issues are closely related to homelessness. Of course, not all homeless people have behavioral health disorders — in Southern California, sky-high rents and the cost of home ownership are enough to threaten housing stability. Still, substance use and mental health disorders are frequently both a cause and a result of homelessness. In one survey, two-thirds of homeless people cited substance use as a primary factor in becoming homeless.
Addiction and mental health problems disrupt relationships with family and friends and can cause people to lose their jobs. Lack of family support and/or income is a well-recognized factor in loss of housing. In other situations, behavioral health disorders are a result of homelessness rather than a cause. People who are homeless often turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their trauma. They use substances in an attempt to attain temporary relief from their problems. In reality, alcohol and drugs only exacerbate problems and decrease a person’s ability to achieve employment stability and get off the streets. Being on the streets is not conducive to recovery. It exposes people to abuse, violence, trauma, and other risks that include death. It’s clear that intervention is needed to get homeless youth and adults into a safe place where they can begin recovery from alcohol, drug, and mental health disorders.
Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse works with the local Coordinated Entry System (CES) to help homeless people find permanent housing, as well as treatment for alcohol, drug, and mental health disorders. The L.A. County Coordinated Entry System was established in 2011 to efficiently and effectively connect people to local interventions that can rapidly resolve their housing crisis. Before this time, homeless people faced closed doors, endless applications, and long wait lists for housing. Today, the CES ensures that the highest need, most vulnerable persons in our community can rapidly and equitably access available housing and supportive services. People with behavioral health problems can enter the CES directly or be referred through an L.A. CADA residential or outpatient treatment program. After the individual is stabilized, a behavioral health case manager works with the CES to identify the most appropriate housing program and coordinate the move. This virtually seamless approach to homelessness is working through a coordinated approach and the use of evidence-based practices that include Housing First, Harm Reduction, and Trauma Informed Care. And it’s a model for the rest of the nation.
Learn more about services for: Homeless Clients with Behavioral Health Disorders