HousingNow for Homeless People with Opiod Use Disorders

HomeFirst serving homeless people with opioid use disorders.

People are dying. Philadelphia is on track to witness 1,250 opioid-related deaths in 2017, a 34% increase over 2016. Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood remains “ground zero” for the purest, cheapest heroin on the East Coast.

In late 2016 Pathways to Housing launched a pilot program, HousingNow that is designed to focus on chronically homeless individuals with long term opioid addiction.  It combines our core competencies in Housing First with new ideas encompassing street outreach, needle exchange, Narcan disbursement, and training, along with access to medically assisted treatment that fits the needs of chronically homeless opioid addicts. The program is successful because it uses permanent housing as part of the treatment plan. In many instances, people access treatment and immediately upon discharge use drugs again.  Providing housing breaks that cycle.  Combined with wrap-around services designed to eliminate many of the barriers to accessing care, the supported housing can make a difference in maintaining sobriety or a medically assisted treatment regime. Peer Counselors provide critical support and guidance in moving towards long-term wellness, and provision of Narcan empowers participants with a life-saving intervention not only for themselves but to people that many service providers do not have immediate access.

Housing - 100% of the participants retained housing throughout the first year. Individuals who move from the streets maintain a risk of returning to homelessness. The team works with the participants to quickly to address behaviors that could negatively impact housing. 

Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) - 52% of the housed participants in HousingNow received MAT or were abstinent during November 2017.  Participants trended toward MAT over time with 45% receiving MAT during the first 6 months of housing and with 62% using MAT or abstinent after 6 months of housing.

Narcan - 100% of participants received Narcan training, as well as an individualized overdose prevention plan and Narcan. Team members regularly interview participants regarding overdoses. When overdoses occur, self-reported or a hospitalization/emergency department visit, the team presses engagement and overdose prevention plans.