Historically, people with chronic mental illnesses have been particularly at risk for homelessness. In 1984, the Connecticut Department of Mental Health (DMH) articulated policy to insure housing for mentally ill persons. One facet of that policy is to increase mental health services to homeless people. The Greater Bridgeport Community Mental Health Center has addressed this need through the formation of the Homeless Outreach Team (HOT). This article describes the development, organization, clinical work, and future of HOT. The team is run jointly by the Mental Health Center (funded through DMH) and Family Service-Woodfield, a United Way-funded agency that provides case management services. Members of the team identify homeless mentally ill persons at local soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and through a network of community contacts. HOT functions by taking clinical services into the community, offering supportive interventions as accepted by its clients. Its success is reflected in numbers of persons housed, psychiatrically stabilized, and participating in rehabilitative services either at the Mental Health Center or through other providers in the community. Several clinical vignettes illustrate HOT's work.



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