Studies have demonstrated that supported housing is an effective intervention for individuals who are homeless and have a mental illness or substance use disorder. This study examined data from an experimental trial of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development–Veterans Affairs Supported Housing (HUD-VASH) program to identify differences in the program’s impact on subgroups defined by sociodemographic or clinical characteristics.
Data were analyzed from 259 male homeless veterans with substance abuse problems who were randomly assigned to HUD-VASH (intensive case management [ICM] plus rent subsidy vouchers), ICM only, or treatment as usual between June 1992 and December 1995. Four subgroups were defined: African American versus Caucasian, younger versus older than 42.3 years, co-occurring diagnoses of mental illness versus diagnosis of a substance use disorder only, and active versus less active substance use upon program entry. Mixed models were used to identify significant interactions between HUD-VASH assignment and each subgroup.
Compared with ICM alone, HUD-VASH was associated with more positive housing outcomes for Caucasians, veterans with co-occurring mental disorders, and veterans who were active substance users. HUD-VASH was associated with more positive socioclinical outcomes for African Americans. No differences were observed in housing or socioclinical outcomes as a function of age.
Among homeless veterans with a substance use disorder, Caucasians and those with active substance use showed greater housing benefits than other veterans from HUD-VASH than from ICM alone. African Americans showed greater socioclinical benefit than Caucasians from HUD-VASH versus ICM. Interaction analysis deserves further study.