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Abstract

Despite the acknowledged need for effective programs to serve persons who are homeless and mentally ill, few evaluations of these programs provide quantitative details on service provision. Such information can be useful to planners for replication and also for public policy concerning the need to mandate services most in demand. This report on a successful outreach intervention reports information on service amounts, duration, and types, as well as identifying predictors of service use. The overall amount of service provided to eligible participants varied substantially. While the median duration was only three months, repeat service episodes were common. For most clients, homeless project intervention included a variety of types of activities; most prevalent were housing, case management, mental health interventions and service entry, including engagement and assessment. Skill-building activities were relatively infrequent. Results from a cluster analysis, used to group clients based on patterns of services received, showed that groupings followed a focus on either: mental health, case management, housing, or a low overall level of total services. Surprisingly, no individual client descriptors or demographics related to cluster membership; only project site and recruitment source were significant predictors. The discussion suggests implications of these findings for other projects and sites and brings into question whether or not service participation and receipt by individuals who are homeless and mentally ill reflect characteristics of clients or of systems available to serve them.

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