Dave’s House provides the permanent supportive housing (PSH) for people living with serious mental illness (SMI) and co-occurring disabilities to manage life obstacles, and succeed. It was founded in 2008 by Lin and Ron Wilensky, to help others in the world like Lin’s brother, Dave, who had schizophrenia.
Dave’s House has developed permanent supportive housing for over 100 individuals who are living productive lives in an atmosphere of mental wellness, stability, autonomy and safety. Nine single family homes are located in Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Fairfax, Virginia. Multiple Dave’s Housing First apartment homes, based upon the Housing First Model, are located throughout Central Florida.
Working with partners at the local, state and federal levels, Dave’s House develops homes based upon best practice PSH models. These models combine a solid foundation of affordable and stable housing, accompanied by managed mental health care provided by our behavioral health service partners. We also coordinate with other well-being service providers to assist residents.
Our homes have a 90% retention rate for residents. All our residents participate daily in a productive activity including continuing education, volunteering and working. Through PSH, residents can more easily manage life obstacles, live in recovery and achieve their dreams. Our homes provide independence, a sense of security and a support network of acceptance and caring.
- 10th Scattered Site Single Family Home
- Accessibility and move-in support to Multiple Dave’s Housing First Apartment Homes
- Impact Families: housing stability and self-sustainability
- Barrier Busting Program: collective resources to sustain housing
- Central Florida Continuum of Care
- Emerging Minds: system-level change
- The Welcome Home Project: community initiative to house 129 chronically homeless individuals
Permanent supportive housing breaks the cycle of chronic crisis care, reducing the financial and social costs of homelessness and building healthier communities.
Key to the success of PSH is ongoing mental health support services. Through our behavioral health services partners, case managers work with residents on life skills training; medication management; mental health/substance abuse treatment; 24-hour/365-days-a-year crisis intervention and stabilization services; daily support programming and vocational services; and coordination with primary health care and dental services.
PSH lowers the community costs by 68% per individual housed. The yearly cost of Dave’s House residency is $10,051. The annual cost of a homeless person living with SMI – including prison, ER visits and hospital stays – is $31,065. (Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, The Cost of Long-term Homelessness in Central Florida 2014).
In 2018, the number of homeless individuals in Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties totaled 2,053. In Florida, 29,717 people were homeless; approximately 25% live with SMI (Sources: Point-in-Time Count 2018 + HUD). Florida has the third largest homeless population in the United States at 35,900, according to the Florida Coalition for the Homeless.
Dave’s House utilizes two models, dependent upon resident-specific needs:
- Scattered Site Single Family Home: This Traditional Home Model keeps individuals from the streets – creating a single family home residence for typically four individuals who are graduating from transitional care or are on the verge of homelessness and back into the cycle of instability.
- Dave’s Housing First: This Housing First Model takes individuals off the streets – providing apartment homes for those with SMI alongside co-occurring disabilities. These individuals require a much greater intensity of case management and services.
Scattered Site Single Family Home
Individuals who have demonstrated stability and have the life skills to live independently with support typically succeed in this model. Often, residents form a modern family, developing friendships that generally elude people with SMI, who often live in isolation because of their illness. They look out for one another, share housekeeping responsibilities and socialize together. The home provides a sense of family, community and stability.
This model is designed to break even financially. The mortgage and property taxes are paid by Dave’s House. A pre-funded reserve is also established. After that investment, the model is self-sustaining. Mental health case management services are billed to the appropriate government agency. Residents pay rent equating to approximately one-third of their monthly SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income). This covers ongoing utility and maintenance expenses. Major repairs are coordinated by the mental health service provider and/or Dave’s House.
Dave’s Housing First
Housing First is a proven approach, serving chronically homeless individuals with serious mental illness and co-occurring disabilities, who require a much greater intensity of services. This model offers permanent supportive housing with few to no treatment preconditions, behavioral contingencies or barriers. It is based on overwhelming evidence that all people experiencing homelessness can achieve stability in permanent housing if provided with the appropriate levels of services. Housing First yields higher housing retention rates, reduces the use of crisis services and institutions and improves people's health and social outcomes (US Interagency Council on Homelessness).
Due to increased statistical success, this model places at-risk individuals in one- or two-bedroom apartments prior to focusing upon interventions and support services. To date, this model is the only effective model for this risk group.
As the home environment is an apartment provided by low income housing partners, there is no home purchase in the Housing First Model. Home expenses include rent subsidies when necessary, furnishings, household supplies and uncompensated support services.
Serious Mental Illness
Dave’s House provides permanent supportive housing for individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) and co-occurring disabilities which include:
- schizoaffective disorder
- psychotic disorders
- major depressive disorders
- bipolar disorders
- borderline personality disorder
- anxiety disorders
- eating disorders
- obsessive compulsive disorder
- posttraumatic stress disorder
- disruptive behavior disorders
- delusional disorder
SMI disrupts the way a person thinks, feels, relates to others and functions on a daily basis. The best treatments for SMI today are highly effective. Between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms, improved quality of life, and a satisfying measure of achievement and independence when a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and support services, like safe, permanent housing, are used. [Source: National Institute of Health]