Mental health

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.  


This brief offers strategies for service providers in public or assisted housing communities to develop strong home visiting services for highly distressed families battling challenges such as depression, substance abuse, or domestic violence. It also provides information on one strategy in particular—the SCRIPT model—that gives concrete instructions for better serving families’ mental health and other needs in home visiting programs. The brief also offers insights into how the model’s framework could be adapted to allow local communities to respond to their community’s particular needs, challenges, and contexts.

Addressing Parents’ Mental Health in Home Visiting Services in Public Housing

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.

Serving HOST Families: The Challenges to Overcome