OBJECTIVE. The study examined whether participants with mental illness
in the federal Section 8 housing subsidy program settle in neighborhoods
different from those of Section 8 participants without mental illness. The
nature of these differences and the reasons they occur were also examined.
METHODS. Data sources included the Section 8 survey for Baltimore and
Cincinnati of the national evaluation of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Program on Chronic Mental Illness, police records, and 1990 census tract
files, supplemented with the addresses of all Section 8 users and mental
health services in both cities. Analyses consisted of calculations of
dissimilarity indexes, comparisons of means, and multiple regressions.
RESULTS. Dissimilarity index scores were .54 for Baltimore and .48 for
Cincinnati, indicating that roughly half of all Section 8 users with mental
illness would have to move to eliminate neighborhood disparities between
them and Section 8 users without mental illness. Section 8 users with
mental illness settled in somewhat better neighborhoods than those without
mental illness. This finding was largely attributable to the sizable
disparities in the racial composition of the two groups of Section 8 users:
a greater proportion of users with mental illness were white. CONCLUSIONS.
The neighborhood quality of Section 8 users with mental illness was found
to be at least as high as that for users without mental illness. It is not
clear whether the Section 8 program of the Program on Chronic Mental
Illness disproportionately served whites, although the racial composition
of the Section 8 program in both cities is disproportionately black.