Lighthouse Model community homes are a form of long-term housing for people with serious mental illness (SMI). They are located in safe neighborhoods and run smoothly and efficiently resulting in a good relationship with the neighbors. The program is centered around the needs of the individual rather than a program (one program fits all).
They are distinguishable from other forms of housing by their capacity to respond to SMI symptoms without threats of evictions for behaviors that are related to their illness. Other housing programs, even those designed to aid individuals with SMI, may evict a member on the grounds of substance abuse, unpredictable behavior due to their mental illness, disregard for program schedules and/or other violations of rules. Due to their serious mental illness, these individuals are more likely to be hospitalized, evicted to the streets and/or incarcerated. The lighthouse model approach is person centered not program centered. Staff recognize behaviors that are symptomatic of SMI and assist the individual to manage their symptoms while retaining their housing. Staff are available 24 hours a day with on-site behavioral technicians who are trained to respond to behaviors associated with SMI symptoms and who make an effort to de-escalate any situation that occurs. Their whole goal is to help the person remain successfully in the community in order to develop a real and meaningful life. If, for example, a person has to be taken to the hospital, or if they end up in jail due to behaviors related to their mental illness that were determined uncontrollable in the current setting, the member will retain his or her place in the Lighthouse when they return. Members all sign individual leases and pay 30% of their income. There is not a time limit on the length of lease and occupancy.
Advocates of the Lighthouse community home model believe that:
- This is an efficient cost-effective program that provides the support and safety that enables people to be permanently housed many of whom would otherwise become homeless or repeatedly cycle through other housing programs, hospitalizations and incarcerations.
- The traditional short-term traditional housing model is insufficient for the chronically mentally ill (a small subset of the SMI population that have not achieved recovery and have failed to demonstrate the ability to successfully live independently.
- For these individuals there is currently no other form of suitable housing available that meets their needs to successfully live in the community.
Characteristics of the target population for Lighthouse Model housing:
- All referrals should have serious mental illness too severe to live with family or friends.
- Failed multiple attempts at living independently.
- May have been unsuccessful at other programs and housing settings.
- Have had many contacts with fire paramedics, police and the judicial system.
- They also may suffer from addiction which often is grounds for eviction from other programs.
- The target population may improve under supervised treatment, but often relapse when released too soon to have benefited from a supportive and therapeutic environment.