Publication Date

January 2004


The 2003 Pilot Survey of Residential Preferences and Needs sampled individuals with psychiatric difficulties at three large generic shelters for adult individuals in Boston and one of four transitional shelters funded by the Metro Boston Region of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health.

 The survey measured: homeless persons’ residential preferences; the residential recommendations of shelter-based clinicians for these homeless persons; clinicians’ assessments of these persons’ living skills and safety.

 Respondents at the DMH shelter were somewhat more satisfied with their shelter and with the people who stayed there than were those at the generic shelters. The DMH shelter users were less satisfied with the level of freedom they had at the shelter than were the generic shelter users.

 Respondents were eager to move into regular housing. Almost all sought to live on their own, but more than half were interested in some level of staff support. Most felt capable of managing the tasks of daily living, but there were particular concerns about filling out forms and budgeting.

 Clinicians were much less confident in the ability of the homeless respondents to live independently. The clinicians’ residential recommendations were not correlated with the residential preferences of the homeless persons themselves.

 Clinicians in the DMH shelters rated their clients as somewhat more sociable and compliant with psychotropic medication than did clinicians rating the generic shelter clients.

 Respondents who were most eager to live independently but whose clinicians identified a relatively high need for support tended to be more intrusive and were more likely to be substance abusers.

 Levels of substance abuse and intrusiveness declined somewhat between baseline and the four-month followup for the DMH shelter residents (there was no followup assessment in the generic shelters).


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