Article Summary

Homeless and Housing Resource Center

The Homeless and Housing Resource Center (HHRC) was established by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to expand the availability of high-quality training in evidence-based housing and treatment models focused on adults, children, and families who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a serious mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, substance use disorders, or co-occurring disorders.


HHRC provides training on housing and treatment models focused on adults, children, and families who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have serious mental illness and/or serious emotional disturbance, substance use disorders, and/or co-occurring disorders.


The vision of HHRC is to be a central hub of easily accessible, no-cost training for health and housing professionals in evidence-based practices that contributes to housing stability, recovery, and an end to homelessness.

Resources and Training

Based at Policy Research, Inc., HHRC works in partnership with national experts in homelessness, mental health, and substance use to develop up-to-date, comprehensive toolkits, webinars, and self-paced online trainings.

The topic of homelessness is too big to have just one conversation. What aspects of homelessness cross your mind? Does it cross your mind at all? How we see the problem may uncover our approach to reducing or eliminating the problem. Rural, Suburban and Urban communities are hosts to potentially different homeless issues.

In an urban community, people openly beg for money, live on streets, in tent cities, under viaducts, etc. In rural communities, people tend to offer up services for food or shelter.  People tend to know each other and their abilities, or lack of abilities. Odd jobs can help sustain an individual. In suburbia, a homeless person may not be openly in the streets, but homeowners here may live in fear of losing their home or have lost their homes or their jobs and are forced into new sets of circumstances.

Let me ask the same questions with regard to poverty. What aspects of poverty cross your mind? Does it cross your mind at all? Those born into it experience it as life’s normal. Those who have never seen it do not understand this type of daily struggle; and those who once had a fairly affluent lifestyle who lose jobs or have experiences in life changes find themselves in situations foreign to them.

There are circumstances of domestic violence where people must leave everything to start a fresh, clean life. There are circumstances of medical conditions that have wiped an entire family out financially just to maintain health. There are jobs that have completely devastated communities in addition to families, such as coal mines that supported an entire community closing and leaving everyone having to re-invent themselves.  These hard-working people find themselves also in competition for what few jobs, often at lesser pay, that exist.

What about someone with mental illness or other disability?  Who helps them with their struggle for survival? We must not judge. We must not group everyone into a category. Clearly, everyone’s circumstances are unique to them.

Think about any form you have ever filled out. The first thing everyone wants to know is your name. Then, phone number and address. How do you answer when you do not have one?

We can look at to see how the census counts people experiencing homelessness. They count people receiving services from shelters, soup kitchens, mobile food vans and identified outdoor locations where people are known to sleep. This number is reportedly over half a million in the U.S. How many additional people receive no services, and sleep in areas that aren’t counted? How many people could be potentially counted more than once? These valuable services are needed, and I commend each agency who is doing their part in offering these services.

If .02% of the population is recorded as homeless, is it possible that policy makers may not see this as a large enough problem to address? When does an issue warrant our full attention?

The U.S. also incarcerates the largest number of individuals worldwide with almost 2.1 million people in prison. (• Ranking: most prisoners per capita by country 2021 | Statista) How many of these individuals have potentially been incarcerated because of circumstances evolving from a homeless status? Or, because of untreated mental illness that led to homelessness?  If either of these are possibilities upon entering jail or prison, what resources are available when they re-enter our communities?

Panhandling, or begging, is often governed by local ordinances that criminalize this act. If we consider this act as a cry for help, where do we begin to help? Is handing a dollar or a sandwich the answer? It might make us feel better at the moment as we know we cannot help over 500 million at once.

We must start with the individual. What does our community look like? Let’s look at our approach. We can potentially help the individual asking for help, but what of those who don’t. How do we keep our communities healthy and safe?

Some mental health centers have become landlords with wrap around services. There have been incidents where communities have fought this type of housing, not wanting or fearing it next to them. Secret shelters for people experiencing domestic violence exist. Yes, here is the catch. They are secret. How do people experiencing domestic violence learn of these services? How do people who have always provided, and provided well for their families, are willing to work any type of work to continue providing, do this when no opportunities exist within the community?

The need for trained property management addressing the needs of entire homeless community is vital. SAMHSA’s resources and identifying evidence-based approaches that work are excellent places to start. This type of property management, free of judgement for the people they serve will lead to healthier communities. We all have so much to learn. When communities come together, assess the needs of those they serve, identify the existing resources in the community, develop needed resources and cultivate a clearer understanding among its constituents, neighbors and friends, homelessness can be reduced, and more individuals will be able to meet their potentials.