THE JABEZ HOUSE: BRIDGING THE GAP FOR UNHOUSED AFRICAN AMERICANS EXPERIENCING MENTAL ILLNESS
Background: African Americans are disproportionately affected by homelessness within the United States. Specifically, in Los Angeles County, African Americans account for more than one-third of the unhoused population despite accounting for less than eight percent of LA County’s population. Contributing factors, including poverty, have led to a disproportionate number of unhoused individuals within the African American community. Many unhoused individuals face barriers in accessing services and often utilize emergency services to meet their needs. Community Engagement: This researcher met with unhoused individuals, community members, and stakeholders to understand the impact of homelessness and work collaboratively towards a solution to address homelessness. This study examined primary data from 43 participants (31 health care workers and 12 unhoused African Americans) at a psychiatric urgent care center in Los Angeles whose ages ranged from 18-74. The data results indicated that healthcare workers and unhoused individuals share similar perceptions regarding the barriers unhoused African Americans face in obtaining permanent housing and accessing outpatient mental health/healthcare services. Conceptual Model: The Jabez House is guided by clear conceptual frameworks, including the Human Becoming Theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and the Socio Ecological model. All three theories inform the need for a Housing First approach to improve the quality of life for unhoused individuals experiencing mental illness within the African American community. The Jabez House will seek to meet the needs of residents, recognizing each client as a holistic human being, helping them obtain critical material necessities, and recognizing the multiple layers of full recovery. Social Innovation: The Jabez will be an interim housing program that provides immediate housing and supportive services for ten unhoused individuals within the African American community who are 18 years and older, chronically unhoused, and high utilizers of psychiatric services. This housing program aims to assist unhoused individuals with the tools to obtain permanent housing and divert emergency psychiatric visits. The Jabez House will partner with existing organizations in the community to provide mental health care, medical and dental treatments, and substance abuse programming alongside faith-based services to residents. Evaluation: To evaluate the effectiveness of the innovation, this researcher will survey residents and healthcare workers who reside at the Jabez House to ensure residents’ needs are being met. The results of the surveys will be used to improve the quality of service for residents. Developing an advisory board will help support and hold the Jabez House accountable for providing effective services to residents and the community. Implications: There are numerous implications of the Jabez House. The improvement for the lives of individuals includes obtaining permanent housing, improving their mental health, building and possibly rebuilding supportive relationships, and securing employment to help maintain their improved health status. Communities will be impacted as local citizens find and utilize these resources Lastly, the Jabez House might help to boost community morale, reduce government interventions and minimize the cost of utilization of emergency services.
A capstone project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Social Work
Social Work, Mental Health