Housing programs for people with severe mental illnesses aim to maximize community integration. However, little is known about how the community integration of mental health consumers living in supported housing compares with that of other community residents in the socially disadvantaged communities where supported housing is often located. The purpose of this study was to examine predictors of objective community integration of mental health consumers living in supported housing and of other persons living in the same communities.
Participants were 124 adults (60 mental health consumers and 64 other community residents) residing in designated zip codes in the Bronx, New York. Participants were administered measures of psychiatric symptoms, substance use, physical community integration (participation in local activities), social integration (interactions with community members), and citizenship (political activism or volunteering).
Mental health consumers living in supported independent housing had significantly lower scores on indicators of objective community integration than other community members. However, differences were relatively small. Among mental health consumers, African-American race, education, and length of time in current residence were associated with better community integration.
Findings suggest that mental health consumers living in supported housing may not achieve levels of objective community integration that are comparable with other community members; however, psychiatric factors did not account for this difference. Length of time in neighborhoods appears to be an important factor in facilitating social integration.
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[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This 1-year longitudinal study of adults who have recently transitioned from homelessness to permanent supportive housing focuses on quality of life as a primary outcome of interest. 80 of 103 new tenants participated in structured interviews at the time of entry into their new home and at 12-months post housing. T-tests assessed differences in community participation and quality of life measures at the two time points. Mixed effects models examined the impact of community participation on quality of life. Results show that time in independent housing was significantly associated with several domains of quality of life. Symptom severity was also significantly and negatively related to quality of life domains. Community participation was significantly related to frequency of social contacts only. These findings suggest that community participation is not critical to improving quality of life, and that despite concerns that individuals may feel isolated and lonely when living independently, satisfaction with one's living situation and family relationships nevertheless improves with housing tenure.
Psychiatry Research 08/2014; 220(1-2). DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2014.07.072 · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although a desired rehabilitation goal, research continues to document that community integration significantly lags behind housing stability success rates for people of a variety of ages who used to be homeless. While accessibility to resources is an environmental factor that may promote or impede integration activity, there has been little empirical investigation into the impact of proximity of community features on resource use and integration. Using a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) approach, the current study examines how accessibility or proximity to community features in Boston, United States related to the types of locations used and the size of an individual's “activity space,” or spatial presence in the community. Significant findings include an inverse relationship between activity space size and proximity to the number and type of community features in one's immediate area. Specifically, larger activity spaces were associated with neighborhoods with less community features, and smaller activity spaces corresponded with greater availability of resources within one's immediate area. Activity space size also varied, however, based on proximity to different types of resources, namely transportation and health care. Greater community function, or the ability to navigate and use community resources, was associated with better accessibility and feeling part of the community. Finally, proximity to a greater number of individual identified preferred community features was associated with better social integration. The current study suggests the ongoing challenges of successful integration may vary not just based on accessibility to, but relative importance of, specific community features and affinity with one's surroundings. Community integration researchers and housing providers may need to attend to the meaning attached to resources, not just presence or use in the community.
Social Science & Medicine 09/2014; 120:142–152. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.09.005 · 2.89 Impact Factor