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.
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
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.
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 over 7,300 homeless individuals. Nearly 20% of the adults have serious mental illness (Florida Council on Homelessness, 2019).
These are the men and women we are working to help.
The nine homes we have established are based on the scattered site single family home model. 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.
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. 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.
We have also funded Housing First Model apartment homes that provide apartment homes for those with SMI alongside co-occurring disabilities. These individuals require a much greater intensity of case management and services.
2022 New Model Initiative
Dave’s House is developing our first Dave’s House Residential Community, a permanent supportive housing community with 30 one-bedroom and studio apartment homes in the City of Orlando. We have evolved to this model because:
- We can serve more people in a more cost-effective manner
- More ongoing services can be provided on-site, avoiding transportation and meeting space issues
- This model can be scaled to land/existing construction available to us for additional developments
- This model can be expanded to include transitional supportive housing in a larger facility
The Residential Community Model expands resident benefits and increases their journey of self-actualization.
- Private units with separate bedrooms and bathrooms
- On-site case management for better ongoing behavioral healthcare
- On-site self-improvement activities and educational sessions
- Decreased sense of isolation, with more residents and staff in centralized location
- Increased peer support
- On-site services that do not require travel to access
- Economies of scale in service provision
- Centralized service provision by partners
This multi-unit complex will
- Reduce the number of homeless adults with SMI in the City of Orlando through permanent supportive housing
- Save $630,420 in community costs annually
- Provide residents with affordable housing, with centralized ongoing case management support; peer support; and personal and professional development programs
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]