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Expanding Access to Mental Health, Substance Abuse and other Supportive Services

Successful efforts to permanently impact homelessness require the provision of a variety of supportive services that work in tandem with housing supports.  These services are designed to address both substantive issues such as obtaining employment; accessing medical, mental health and substance abuse services; or obtaining public benefits, as well as meeting basic needs such as food, clothing, childcare and transportation.

Colorado is not known for its generosity in funding mental health and substance abuse services.  A 2009 study by the American College of Emergency Physicians, for example, ranked Colorado 50th, or last, in the availability of in-patient psychiatric services.   Similarly, a 2001 study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that Colorado spent less than .01% of its budget on prevention, treatment and research related to substance abuse.   Because mental health and/or substance abuse issues often impact the chronically homeless population, efforts will need to be undertaken to supplement these already stressed service areas. 

Other supportive services are distributed throughout the County and are provided by a variety of non-profit organizations and within city and county government agencies.  While these services may be in greater supply, they may not be optimally organized across the system or in sufficient quantities to meet the needs of the homeless populations targeted in this plan.  Improvement in the delivery of basic supportive services is aided in the plan by the development of a service inventory that will be used in conjunction with referral and case management processes to ensure that participants receive the right services at the right time.  

Preventing Homelessness

Increasing the Capacity to Meet Short and Long Term Housing Needs

Improving Infrastructure and the Coordination of Service Delivery

Keeping the Community Engaged

Ensuring Successful Implementation