The effect of homelessness, housing type, functioning, and community reintegration supports on mental health court completion and recidivism
Although mental health court has been found to increase quality of life and functioning, it is unknown whether community stability indicators predict program completion and delay re-arrest for homeless versus non-homeless mental health court participants. Self-reported quality of life and social support, chart diagnosis, and administrative housing, services and criminal justice data were collected for 589 Bronx Mental Health Court participants for 12 months following diversion. Individuals who were homeless (n = 89) versus housed (n = 500) during the 12 months prior to diversion were compared to determine predictors of court graduation and re-arrest. Homeless status did not predict graduation or re-arrest, and quality of life, social support, functioning and housing type were not predictive of re-arrest. Housing instability negatively affected outcomes for both homeless and non-homeless individuals. An increase in functioning and a slight improvement in social support were predictive of successful graduation for homeless individuals, whereas a large increase in social support and lower functioning had a negative impact. In contrast, positive life satisfaction was predictive of successful graduation in non-homeless participants. Those who did not complete mental health court, whether homeless or not, were more likely to be re-arrested, particularly for felony and drug-related offenses than those who graduated. Mental health court was generally beneficial to mental health court participants. However, for those previously homeless, functioning and social support may play a unique and interconnected role in court graduations, whereas general life satisfaction may be a better indicator for program completion for non-homeless individuals.