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The Intersection of Housing, Homelessness, and Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

The lack of affordable housing and the rise of homelessness are increasingly intertwined with the growing mental health and substance use disorder crisis in communities across the United States. It represents a complex crisis affecting communities worldwide.

Understanding the Crisis

The Shortage of Affordable Housing

There is a severe shortage of affordable housing options across the country. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, only 37 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households are available. As housing costs and rents continue to outpace wages, more households are paying over 30% of their income on housing, leading to difficult trade-offs on other basic needs.

The Rise in Homelessness and Its Consequences

Homelessness is not just a lack of shelter. It also involves a lack of security, privacy, and the basic amenities most people take for granted. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, on any given night, over 500,000 people in the U.S. are unhoused. The experience of living without housing often exacerbates existing health issues and contributes to new ones, particularly mental health and substance use disorders.

The Mental Health Crisis Among People Experiencing Homelessness

The rise in homelessness has also led to increasing overlap with mental health disorders. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over half of adults living in permanent supportive housing either had a mental health disorder or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder (HUD, 2016). In addition, people experiencing homelessness are at high risk of overdose from illicit drug use (SAMHSA, 2020).

Substance Use Disorders among those who are Unhoused

In addition to mental illness, many individuals experiencing homelessness live with a substance use disorder involving drugs, alcohol, or both. Self-medication with illegal narcotics and alcohol is common, especially for those also dealing with untreated mental illness. The combination exacerbates their barriers to accessing rehabilitation programs and public resources.

Count on RADIAS Health

RADIAS Health provides person-centered integrated healthcare services to people experiencing mental illness, substance use, or co-occurring disorders. Compassionate, skilled health care and support staff deliver our behavioral health services. In addition, our care includes supplementary services such as case management, supportive housing, services to those who are unhoused, residential services, outpatient DBT treatment, and more.

If you or someone you know could benefit from our mission, contact us today or consider donating!

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