Center for Urban Research and Learning

Loyola University Chicago

Here you will find all of CURL's research projects and publications. 

Housing First Model Fidelity and Implications for Substance Abuse Treatment

(9/15/2009 - 9/15/2011)

Heartland Alliance.jpg

Housing First is a model for serving homeless individuals who have been dually diagnosed with substance use disorder and serious mental illness. While the model has been associated with higher substance abuse treatment access for clients, it has been recognized that stronger definitions of its essential elements are needed before further investigation into the association between Housing First programming and substance abuse treatment can be carried out.

In partnership with Heartland Alliance, CURL received a two-year grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to:

(1) Define the essential components of the Housing First model;

(2) Develop a fidelity index for Housing First programming;

(3) Test the finalized fidelity index for reliability and validity; and

(4) Assess the degree to which fidelity predicts improved substance abuse treatment access for clients. 

The study seeks to address these aims through activities carried out in three phases. In the first phase interviews with staff and clients from Housing First organizations will define the core essential elements of the model. In the second phase, interviews with Housing First experts will be conducted to create a finalized fidelity index. The final phase will assess the model by correlating agency fidelity scores with housing retention and client treatment access data from housing organizations.

To see further work that CURL has done with substance abuse and housing first evaluations see Process Evaluation of the Chicago Housing for Health Partnership System and Harm Reduction Institute/Heartland Health.

Research Team

  • D. Watson, CURL
  • M. Rivers, Graduate Fellow
  • D. Wagner, Graduate Fellow
  • J. Tartuung, Undergraduate Fellow
  • E. Hardin, Undergraduate Fellow

Community Partner