The subject of housing for persons with mental illness continues to be a serious discussion within the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) and throughout the mental health community in Pennsylvania. Individuals with serious mental illness define safe, decent, affordable housing as critical in supporting their recovery. Additionally, safe, affordable and permanent housing opportunities for consumers is a pressing need identified by county mental health offices and expressed in their county planning documents, including the County Integrated Human Services Plans (previously the County Mental Health Plans). In April 2006, OMHSAS convened a Housing Workgroup, to formulate recommendations regarding the direction that the development of housing opportunities should take, in light of the need for affordable housing, and the move toward recovery-oriented services. OMHSAS' Housing Initiative — Overview provides background on the office's efforts.
The May 2016 edition of the Olmstead Plan for Pennsylvania’s State Mental Health System (Plan) first issued in 2011 and revised in 2013, includes new sources of integrated housing available through a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) demonstration project. It is through the County Mental Health and Intellectual Disability (MH/ID) system and the local/regional plans, that this Plan is supported and implemented. These local/regional plans, originally developed in 2016 and finalized in 2017, identify the services, supports, and infrastructure needed to support individuals in the community across the lifespan. Strategies in the plans include fostering and enhancing partnerships and maximizing community resources to meet the housing and specialized needs of individuals. The local plans include a “housing inventory” of existing housing options available to individuals; any planned Community Residential Rehabilitation (CRR) conversions; strategies to include identifying the Local Lead Agency (LLA) and existing agreements with them for referrals and supportive services arrangements. Existing partnerships with local Public Housing Authorities, Regional Housing Coordinators, Community Housing and Redevelopment Authorities, Local Housing Options Teams, Continuums of Care are highlighted and are designed to further housing opportunities for individuals served by County Mental Health Programs.