January 11, 2010
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) program that provides housing for 75 previously homeless persons with mental illness has received funding for another year from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The REACT (Research and Evaluation of Assertive Community Treatment) program, part of the Division of Community Psychiatry, in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology, received renewal grants totaling nearly $750,000 as part of HUD's Continuum of Care program.
The program identifies people classified by HUD as chronically homeless and diagnosed with a mental illness. The grants pay for rent and utilities at local apartment buildings while the recipient undergoes treatment through UAB's Community Psychiatry programs.
"We act as a housing authority in a sense, arranging and paying for apartments for these patients while providing diagnosis, treatment and case management services for them," said Harry Findley, MSW, LCSW, REACT team leader. "We provide a stable environment - housing, therapy, support, perhaps job training - that helps these patients get the treatment they need to function independently in our society."
To meet HUD's criteria for chronic homelessness, an individual has to be homeless for an entire year or has had four homeless episodes during the course of three years. Each participant pays 30 percent of their income into the program, whether it is from a job or a government assistance program, in return for REACT's subsidy of rent and utilities.
"The provision of housing for persons with serious mental illnesses who also are chronically homeless has become a major goal for UAB's Community Psychiatry Division on both humanitarian and economic grounds," said Findley. "Studies elsewhere in the country have shown that this approach will save much more than it costs through reduced emergency department visits, hospitalizations, incarcerations and law-enforcement costs."
In 2010, HUD is providing nearly $1.4 billion to help 6,400 homeless-assistance programs nationwide continue to offer critically needed housing and services to homeless persons and families.
About UAB REACT
The UAB REACT Program is Alabama's first Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team, established in 2000, involving a team of professionals including a psychiatrist, social workers, nurses, counselors and case managers who provide comprehensive, community-based psychiatric treatment, rehabilitation and support critical to a homeless and mentally ill individual's ability to live successfully in the community.