A new initiative providing stable housing for people with mental illness reduced hospitalisation rates for 84 per cent of participants, a new report has found.

Those participants in the Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI) who were hospitalised spent 81 per cent less time in hospital and emergency departments, the Final Report of the Evaluation of the Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative, conducted by UNSW’s Social Policy Research Centre found.

The HASI initiative, which helps people with mental illness maintain stable public housing, saved the NSW economy $30 million in hospital costs.

Community participation also improved, with 94 per cent of participants forming friendships, 73 per cent participating in social and community activities and 43 per cent working and/or studying. 90 per cent of HASI clients successfully maintained their tenancy.

HASI was initially funded to support 100 people in 2002-2003. The program has since expanded to support over 1000 mental health consumers across NSW. 

The most common diagnosis of HASI consumers’ was schizophrenia (65 per cent). One quarter of consumers had a secondary diagnosis and more than half had a co-existing condition, such as alcohol or drug dependency, physical health problems and intellectual disability. Nearly half the consumers were in hospital or had unstable housing and many needed support to sustain their tenancies.

Chief Investigator of the report, Associate Professor Karen Fisher, said the report has demonstrated that the program is cost effective for a range of people with chronic mental illness who are unable to live in their own home without support.

“The HASI approach has the potential to enable more people to have a good quality of life in their community and prevent acute mental health episodes.  Extending this personalised approach of housing and support to other people with mental illness will be good for them, their families and our communities,” she said

NSW Minister for Mental Health, Kevin Humphries, said the report affirms the NSW Government’s decision to extend the established HASI model to reach more people throughout the State.

“HASI needs to expand and evolve, and we have already made significant progress in ensuring the program reaches out to more people in need, particularly those with a mental illness who are cycling in and out of hospitals and at risk of homelessness, new mothers, and boarding house residents.”

Media contact: Fran Strachan | 9385 8732 | 0429 416 070

Providing stable housing for people with mental illness has reduced NSW hospitalisation rates.