Supporting positive mental health and providing mental health treatment is fundamental to the HOST approach. The stress and anxiety of living in poor neighborhood and housing conditions, worrying about paying the rent, and not having enough to eat can be part of daily life for many low-income families, particularly residents of public and subsidized housing.
Over the three-year HOST demonstration, residents’ mental health needs were cast into sharp focus. In the three demonstration sites, adults experienced elevated worry, depression, and anxiety at rates that exceeded national averages, often by 20 percent or more.
How did I get to be 50 years old and no one ever told me I was bipolar?
A mother from the HOST site in Chicago
Given the need, the HOST approach includes mental health supports for participating families. Local partners adapt these supports to fit residents’ needs and to match local resource availability.
Residents in public housing and other low-income or marginalized communities live with the daily stressors of violence and concentrated poverty, which stem from historic and structural conditions of racism, disenfranchisement, and isolation. Part of this trauma is the result of an extensive history of broken promises made by those intervening in marginalized communities. It is essential for community-building and engagement efforts to be realistic and transparent about new opportunities and to be truthful about what they are offering. This requires stakeholders to acknowledge these community-level traumas. Collaboration that addresses these traumas and offers opportunities for healing can generate viable and sustainable community change through improved policies, programs, and institutional practices. This document is a guide for those seeking innovative, effective, and responsible approaches to supporting residents of low-income housing communities.
HOST's diverse parents struggle with significant barriers to employment, including low levels of education and literacy, chronic mental and physical health problems, and histories of trauma and violence. As a result, many HOST parents cycle in and out of the labor market or languish in low-wage jobs. Under these circumstances, HOST families do their best to get by, but often have to make hard choices between paying rent and utilities and buying essentials like food. This brief provides an in-depth profile of HOST families to set the scene for the changes we hope to see over the demonstrations duration.