LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A new federally funded project aims to help homeless people in Louisville who have both mental health and substance use disorders. The University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work and Wellspring, a nonprofit behavioral health organization, are partnering on the $2 million, five-year effort to provide integrated care to aid people in finding housing and recovery.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded the grant, which is intended to use interventions to improve the lives of 180 people with co-occurring serious mental illness and substance use.
“This will be a life-changing program,” Wellspring CEO Katharine Dobbins said. “It helps move a person along the path of recovery toward the goals they want to achieve. We will take a harm reduction approach, but critical life experiences serve as opportunities to help individuals make positive changes.”
“The Kent School of Social Work and the University of Louisville strongly support the care and well-being of the community. We welcome the partnership of Wellspring to enhance their efforts and experience to do that work,” said Dr. Bibhuti Sar, UofL social work professor and the grant’s lead investigator.
Working with community partners such as the Coalition for the Homeless and Louisville Metro Housing Authority, the project will identify some of Louisville’s most vulnerable adults living on the streets with both disorders and will seek to provide them with housing and services designed to stabilize their lives.
Participants will have a support team that includes a therapist, case manager, nurse practitioner and a peer support professional. This team in conjunction with the Kent School of Social Work will develop skills in using evidence-based methods that help integrate trauma-informed care. Sar said UofL will bring in national experts for training in evidence-based interventions and with Martin Hall, Kent associate professor, also will evaluate the project’s effectiveness.
Partnering organizations also will measure outcomes including how many homeless people get housed, how quickly and whether they maintain housing for a year or more. Other measurements will assess improvement to their quality of life and whether their psychiatric conditions changed.
The grant from SAMHSA, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides about $400,000 a year and is renewable for up to five years.