Philadelphia, United States

Addressing Behavioral Health and Housing Challenges

The Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS) has implemented a multi-faceted approach to house vulnerable citizens and increase health through Housing First, Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), and master leasing. 

The Housing First approach affirms that the basic need for a place to live must be met before people can address other challenges, including those that lead to homelessness such as behavioral health conditions. The city partnered with the Philadelphia Housing Authority to dedicate 200 housing vouchers a year between 2009 and 2013.

DBHIDS provided linkage to tenant services coordination (liaison between landlord and tenant), case management, peer support, and mobile psychiatric rehabilitation. DBHIDS created bridge subsidies to support individuals in independent housing until permanent vouchers were assigned. 

After evaluating unmet needs in the city, a partnership with the Corporation for Supportive Housing addressed high utilizing individuals from the homeless/ behavioral health/ criminal justice systems. Individuals identified through data matches were given support and opportunities to participate in housing subsidies to reduce recidivism.

A  first approach in master lease housing was initiated to house individuals on the same day they were being released from incarceration.

“The City of Philadelphia is honored to be a finalist for the Wellbeing Cities Award 2020. We’re proud of our ‘Addressing Behavioral Health and Housing Challenges’ initiative, which continues to contribute to citywide wellbeing by helping to meet citizens’ most basic needs. Wellbeing has to begin somewhere – and in Philadelphia, it begins with a home. Our city prioritizes housing first for people who are vulnerable as a physical foundation for a diverse array of wellbeing services. Only with this most fundamental need met can we hope to truly improve the quality of life for all.”

Jim Kenney
Mayor of Philadelphia, United States

* Disclosure: The Wellbeing Cities Award’s laureates and finalists were selected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil rights protests. In the light of these new events, our events team is working to reflect these crucial changes in the program of the Wellbeing Cities Forum.

Featured photo by ActionVance on Unsplash.
DBHIDS photos sent by the City of Philadelphia, United States.