New Initiative in Kansas City Successfully Reduces Hospital Interactions and Promotes Housing Stability for Formerly Homeless Individuals

In 2017 Truman Medical Centers Behavioral Health, now known as University Health Behavioral Health, or UHBH, launched the 500 in Five campaign that committed to developing and/or securing 500 units of
housing over five years.

In partnership with University Health Behavioral Health (UHBH) staff, the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) Department of Psychology reviewed health care utilization, behavioral health services, and court data on 80 supportive housing tenants housed through the 500 in Five housing initiative launched
by UHBH in late 2017. The study group included people housed by UHBH between November 1, 2017, and February 25, 2020, a timeframe that allowed one year after housing elapses for each person before initiating a comprehensive records review of University Health (UH) health care utilization among these individuals in April 2021. The purpose of the analysis was to see what effect if any, housing had on tenants’/patients’ utilization of UH health care services and UHBH outpatient services.

The data presented in this report suggest that enrollment in UHBH’s behavioral health services combined with subsidized housing had a significant effect on how patients utilized health care at the hospital. Looking at utilization by subtype group yielded several statistically significant results that demonstrated changes in health utilization from pre-housing to post-housing. Most notably, there was a steep decline in both the number of psychiatric inpatient events (down to less than one on average per person from nearly five in the pre-period for those psychiatrically hospitalized in the year prior to housing) and the cost of those hospitalizations (decreased by 98%).

This result is consistent with several studies of permanent supportive housing that show significant decreases in psychiatric emergency department visits and psychiatric inpatient hospitalizations.

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