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Am J Public Health. 1997 February; 87(2): 256–262.
PMCID: PMC1380803

Preventing recurrent homelessness among mentally ill men: a "critical time" intervention after discharge from a shelter.


OBJECTIVES: This study examined a strategy to prevent homelessness among individuals with severe mental illness by providing a bridge between institutional and community care. METHODS: Ninety-six men with severe mental illness who were entering community housing from a shelter institution were randomized to receive 9 months of a "critical time" intervention plus usual services or usual services only. The primary analysis compared the mean number of homeless nights for the two groups during the 18-month follow-up period. To elucidate time trends, survival curves were used. RESULTS: Over the 18-month follow-up period, the average number of homeless nights was 30 for the critical time intervention group and 91 for the usual services group. Survival curves showed that after the 9-month period of active intervention, the difference between the two groups did not diminish. CONCLUSIONS: Strategies that focus on a critical time of transition may contribute to the prevention of recurrent homelessness among individuals with mental illness, even after the period of active intervention.

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