For persons with serious and persistent mental illness, the current Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, like the previous Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) system, has the paradoxical effect of maintaining persons in a state of impoverishment while promoting dependency and demoralization. The monthly SSI check is not sufficient to support adequate housing in any U.S. city. Thus persons with mental illness are left to play a game of musical chairs, vying with other disability groups and the poor for limited subsidized housing. Frequently, they end up homeless. Because SSI does not promote rehabilitation and actually discourages employment, the great majority of recipients remain unemployed. Is it a surprise that persons with mental illness who are impoverished, unemployed, and either homeless or inadequately housed also develop substance use problems and become involved with the criminal justice system? The fruit of our current disability system is an underclass that is unemployed and that has staggering rates of homelessness, drug abuse, and criminality.