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Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2009 Apr;79(2):236-43. doi: 10.1037/a0015624.

Coming in: an examination of people with co-occurring substance use and serious mental illness exiting chronic homelessness.

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  • 1Health Sciences Department, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Despite national efforts, the number of people who are chronically homeless in our cities remains high. People with serious mental illness and substance abuse problems continue to represent the majority of those experiencing long-term homelessness. Traditional shelters have difficulty engaging and addressing the needs of this group; however, there are an increasing number of alternative models, including the Safe Haven shelter program, developed to better meet their needs. In this article, the authors examine responses from 28 qualitative interviews conducted with 16 residents of a Safe Haven shelter serving chronically homeless people, at 3 and 9 months after entry. All had a severe mental illness and were actively substance abusing. The importance of a model that respects personhood, a place that feels like home, and challenges faced by residents as they "come in" are emphasized.

(c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved.

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