Dave’s House provides permanent supportive housing for men and women with serious mental illness (SMI), giving them a solid foundation so they can 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.
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.
We know that, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economy and widespread unemployment, there will be a tremendous increase in homelessness, and the need for permanent supportive housing for men and women with serious mental illness.
We are working now to help these vulnerable individuals in Central Florida. At Dave’s House, being Somebody’s Someone is about people helping people with serious mental illness rebuild their lives, escaping homelessness and living in a supportive home.
We are continuing our work,
- Developing more permanent supportive housing
- Offering a variety of options for our residents to improve their personal and professional life skills through our Dave’s House 360° Resident Development Programs
- Supporting community initiatives with our Dave's House Volunteers program
HOMES DESIGNED WITH RESIDENTS IN MIND
• Neighborhood services
• Access to public transportation
• Physical structure functionality including common spaces and private bedrooms
• Pre-move-in and ongoing maintenance
• Furnishings including appliances and daily life necessities
• Food and personal care item start-up assistance
Dave’s House 360°
Working with community partners, other non-profits and behavioral health care providers, Dave’s House 360° provides Resident Development Programs to enhance resident services. Programs focus on the personal and professional betterment and life-long wellness of residents. They include day programs, volunteering and interactive workshops that offer new social, career, health and daily life skill training opportunities.
The Dave’s House Champions Mentorship Program connects trained volunteer mentors with residents at our Central Florida homes. Our mentors volunteer their time to help our residents face daily life challenges better and develop new skills.
They help residents overcome their feelings of isolation and seclusion, learn skills for social interaction and connection and learn how to build personal relationships. The program focuses on a more holistic recovery process and ongoing wellness to provide improved health, independence and life skills for success. It emphasizes individual personal interests in hobbies, talents and leisure pursuits.
We also celebrate resident birthdays, personal achievement milestones and holidays throughout the years with our residents.
Dave’s House Family
We developed a private Facebook group, Dave’s House Family, to help our residents keep in contact with each other. It’s our virtual community for our residents to interact, support each other and reach out for any assistance they may need. Group members also include behavioral health providers, mentors and staff.
Residents can share their thoughts and ideas to each other including recipes, TV shows, games, books, music, hobbies – anything they want to talk about. We will also be hosting live events with interactive Q&A sessions and educational classes and providing informational links and videos, all to help our residents make the most of their time at home including cooking tips and techniques, gardening and mental health management.
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 Central Florida’s Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties, there are an estimated 2,010 homeless individuals. Of the 29,717 homeless men and women in Florida, 17.3% have serious mental illness (Florida Council on Homelessness, 2019).
These are the men and women we are working to help.
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]