Thesis

Homelessness: Housing Retention for Transitional Age Youth (TAY) with Mental Illness of Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

Homelessness is a global problem that has been a focus of attention of politicians or government officials from different government agencies. Combined with mental illness, they affect not only the homeless individuals, but entire communities as well. It is more challenging to house homeless people with mental illness. Providing them a house does not solve the problem; keeping them housed is the real issue. Proposition 63, also known as the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), introduced by former Assembly member Darrell Steinberg was approved by voters in 2004. It imposes an additional 1% income tax from California taxpayers earning at least $1 million to fund the county mental health programs for children, Transitional Age Youth (TAY), adults, older adults and families. One of those programs is MHSA Housing which is being implemented by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH). Permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals with serious mental illness were built with supportive services provided by case managers. However once moved in to their fully furnished apartments, the problem becomes housing retention across all ages, that includes TAY, adult, and older adult. Based on previous studies conducted by different researchers, TAY population is the most challenging group to retain housing. Mental health clinicians, case managers and property managers who are involved in the implementation of the MHSA Housing program tend to agree with the researchers' findings. This researcher wants to study and discover the reason behind the low housing retention among TAY clients of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, and the role of their case managers. This study will also explore and identify the root causes of the problem and determine the potential alternative solutions. Finding the right solutions will keep the vulnerable TAY with mental illness safe and stable. The right solutions for the right individuals can potentially improve the mental health and quality of life of homeless TAY with mental illness. Housing retention will reduce hospitalization expenses and risk of incarceration for homeless mentally ill TAY. Finally, it will decrease the number of homeless individuals and families in Los Angeles County which will lead to a safer and cleaner environment.

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