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Odyssey House Develops Pathways to Housing Initiative with $2 Million Grant from SAMHSA

New Initiative Will Provide Treatment and Housing Services for Homeless People in Recovery from Substance Abuse


Odyssey House has been awarded a $2 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop its Pathways to Housing Initiative. This competitive, five-year, federal grant will allow Odyssey House to extend its outreach into the shelter system, enroll homeless persons with substance abuse problems (particularly single mothers with small children) into residential or outpatient substance abuse treatment, and provide assistance with housing placement.

Odyssey House developed the Pathways to Housing Initiative based on its experience of providing substance abuse services to homeless men, women, and families, and the agency’s success in helping individuals maintain their sobriety and create a stable home life by providing in-place supportive services that decrease relapse and improve the chances of long-term recovery.

“One of the most difficult transitions homeless substance abusers make is returning to independent living,” said Dr. Peter Provet, President of Odyssey House. “Odyssey House clients often have great difficulty finding appropriate low-cost housing and do not want to jeopardize their recovery by returning to the same environment that they lived in prior to treatment.”

New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) recognizes substance abuse as a significant problem among its homeless population. Approximately 22% or 1,833 adult shelter beds are designated as substance abuse beds. In 2003, 46% of Odyssey House residents expected to need housing after completing treatment, however only 24% of the graduates obtained housing.

“A major reason clients leave treatment before completion is their inability to obtain affordable housing,” Dr. Provet continued. “The combination of housing and ongoing treatment services made possible by the Pathways to Housing Initiative and our partnerships with DHS and other housing agencies, will improve client retention, recovery, and homeless recidivism rates. We expect that clients will remain in treatment longer if they can obtain practical assistance to locate affordable housing.”

Odyssey House has extensive experience in working with homeless populations. It operates several treatment and housing programs including:

• Odyssey Behavioral HealthCare Residence – substance abuse and mental health treatment services for 60 homeless individuals;

• Odyssey House Camp LaGuardia – substance abuse treatment and housing placement services for 150 single adult men living in New York City’s largest men’s shelter in Chester, New York;

• Odyssey House Haven – supportive, permanent housing for 63 homeless men and women with chronic medical and/or mental health problems; and

• 45 Shelter Plus Care apartments – transitional housing for residents re-entering society following completion of long-term treatment.

Odyssey House recognizes the importance of housing counselors to advocate on behalf of clients returning to the community. The counselors, supported by this award, will work with clients in treatment to secure appropriate housing including:

• coordinating entitlements and linking with community-based housing services for families and single adults;

• determining the amount of rent a family or individual can afford; and

• actively seeking apartments and subsidy programs that address client needs including utilizing available Odyssey House and other subsidized permanent housing units.

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