RD100 - Health and Housing Strategy for Virginians with Serious Mental Illness: A Report to the General Assembly – January 2019

Executive Summary:

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is an evidence-based practice that meets the housing preferences of many individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) and demonstrates positive outcomes such as reduced hospitalizations and homelessness, increased housing stability, and improved behavioral and physical health. Data from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services’ PSH program demonstrates positive results in all of these areas. These outcomes avoid costs associated with use of expensive systems such as psychiatric in-patient facilities, emergency departments and corrections facilities and helps the state comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead.

Both the General Assembly and Governor Northam recognize the benefits of PSH. In 2017, the General Assembly requested the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) work with state agencies and other stakeholders to develop and implement strategies to expand PSH for individuals with SMI. In November 2018, Governor Northam issued Executive Order 25, recognizing Virginia’s unmet housing needs and highlighting the need for PSH as a top priority.

At the request of the Deeds Commission, DBHDS assessed the need for PSH for adults with serious mental illness who need PSH to address extreme crises such as long-term homelessness, institutionalization, and frequent use of emergency services and criminal justice interventions. DBHDS’s assessment established a need for 5,000 PSH units. The Administration’s Interagency Leadership Team (ILT) supports efforts to address this need, consistent with the Governor’s EO 25.

This report to the General Assembly by DHCD lays out in detail services and housing recommendations to continue to expand PSH to meet the long-term 5,000-unit need. Meeting this need will require leadership and commitment of state and local public and private entities to make rental units available and affordable and to provide supportive services including tenancy supports.