National Dissemination of Supported Housing in the VA: Model Adherence versus Model Modification
ABSTRACT The continuing development and dissemination of emerging evidence-based practices may be facilitated by the availability of descriptive information on the actual delivery of the service, and its variability, across sites. This paper presents data on the participation of 2,925 homeless veterans in the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supported Housing (HUD-VASH) program at 36 sites across the country, for up to five years. While most conceptual models emphasize rapid placement, sustained intensive case management, rehabilitation services, and "permanent" housing, no program has yet presented empirical data on the actual delivery of such services over an extended period of time.
Using extensive longitudinal data from the VA's national homeless outreach program, the Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) program, a quantitative portrait presents what happens in supported housing in a large real-world dissemination effort.
Program entry to HUD-VASH was generally slow with 108 days (sd = 92 days) on average passing between program entry and housing placement. Total program participation lasted 2.6 years on average (sd = 1.6 years)-just half of the possible 5 years. Service delivery became substantially less intensive over time by several measures, and three-fourths of the veterans terminated within five years, although the vast majority (82%) were housed at the time. Few veterans received rehabilitation services (6%) or employment assistance (17%) and most service delivery focused on obtaining housing.
These data suggest that real-world supported housing programs may not adhere to the prevalent model descriptions either because of implementation failure or because veteran needs and preferences differ from those suggested by that model.
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ABSTRACT: The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-VA Supportive Housing (VASH) program-the VA's Housing First effort-is central to efforts to end Veteran homelessness. Yet, little is known about health care utilization patterns associated with achieving HUD-VASH housing. We compare health service utilization at the VA Greater Los Angeles among: (1) formerly homeless Veterans housed through HUD-VASH (HUD-VASH Veterans); (2) currently homeless Veterans; (3) housed, low-income Veterans not in HUD-VASH; and (4) housed, not low-income Veterans. We performed a secondary database analysis of Veterans (n=62,459) who received VA Greater Los Angeles care between October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011. We described medical/surgical and mental health utilization [inpatient, outpatient, and emergency department (ED)]. We controlled for demographics, need, and primary care use in regression analyses of utilization data by housing and income status. HUD-VASH Veterans had more inpatient, outpatient, and ED use than currently homeless Veterans. Adjusting for demographics and need, HUD-VASH Veterans and the low-income housed Veterans had similar likelihoods of medical/surgical inpatient and outpatient utilization, compared with the housed, not low-income group. Adjusting first for demographics and need (model 1), then also for primary care use (model 2), HUD-VASH Veterans had the greatest decrease in incident rates of specialty medical/surgical, mental health, and ED care from models 1 to 2, becoming similar to the currently homeless, compared with the housed, not low-income group. Our findings suggest that currently homeless Veterans underuse health care relative to housed Veterans. HUD-VASH may address this disparity by providing housing and linkages to primary care.Medical care 05/2014; 52(5):454-61. DOI:10.1097/MLR.0000000000000112 · 2.94 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is transitioning to a Housing First approach to placement of veterans in permanent supportive housing through the use of rental vouchers, an ambitious organizational transformation. This qualitative study examined the experiences of eight VA facilities undertaking this endeavor in 2012. METHODS A multidisciplinary team interviewed facility leadership, midlevel managers, and frontline staff (N=95 individuals) at eight VA facilities representing four U.S. regions. The team used a semistructured interview protocol and the constant comparative method to explore how individuals throughout the organizations experienced and responded to the challenges of transitioning to a Housing First approach. RESULTS Frontline staff faced challenges in rapidly housing homeless veterans because of difficult rental markets, the need to coordinate with local public housing authorities, and a lack of available funds for move-in costs. Staff sought to balance their time spent on housing activities with intensive case management of highly vulnerable veterans. Finding low-demand sheltering options (that is, no expectations regarding sobriety or treatment participation, as in the Housing First model) for veterans waiting for housing presented a significant challenge to implementation of Housing First. Facility leadership supported Housing First implementation through resource allocation, performance monitoring, and reliance on midlevel managers to understand and meet the challenges of implementation. CONCLUSIONS The findings highlight the considerable practical challenges and innovative solutions arising from a large-scale effort to implement Housing First, with particular attention to the experiences of individuals at all levels within an organization.Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) 01/2014; 65(5). DOI:10.1176/appi.ps.201300073 · 2.81 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: As more women serve in the U.S. military, the proportion of females among homeless veterans is increasing. The current study compares the individual characteristics and 1-year outcomes of homeless female and male veterans in the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program nationally. Administrative data on 43,853 veterans (10.69% females; 89.31% males) referred to HUD-VASH were analyzed for gender differences at baseline and over a 1-year period. Homeless female veterans were younger, had shorter homeless and incarceration histories, and were less likely to have substance use disorders than men. However, despite being less likely to report combat exposure, female veterans were more likely to have posttraumatic stress disorder. Homeless female veterans were also much more likely to have dependent children with them and to plan to live with family members in supported housing. Once admitted to HUD-VASH, there were no gender differences in attrition or main housing outcomes. Case managers were faster to admit female veterans to the program, reported better working alliances, and provided more services related to employment and income than male veterans. These findings suggest homeless female veterans may have certain strengths, including being younger, less involved in the criminal justice system, and more adept at relating to professional and natural supports; but special attention to noncombat trauma and family-oriented services may be needed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).Psychological Services 04/2014; 11(3). DOI:10.1037/a0036323 · 1.08 Impact Factor