Journal of Undergraduate Research


housing and health, mental health, physical health, homeless


Marriott School of Management


Strategic Management


Housing is closely related to mental and physical health. Extensive research demonstrates that even relatively basic housing features such as cement floors or running water create life-altering improvements in the health of occupants. Predictably, homeless populations benefit from such interventions. Utah provides a unique environment to study the transition from homelessness to housing, and from health crises to health care. After a study revealed the cost effectiveness and savings of moving homeless people from the streets to housing, Utah implemented the Housing First program in Salt Lake City, a system that addresses homelessness by providing homeless individuals (clients) with housing as quickly as possible, and then by supplying social and medical services as needed. The clients of Housing First are the chronically homeless, individuals who have faced extended periods of homelessness, and also suffer from mental and/or substance abuse issues that have rendered more traditional treatment plans ineffective. This study provides an initial assessment of the ways that the Housing First Initiative has impacted the health outcomes and health-seeking behaviors among clients served by the program, with the intent of catalyzing further and more focused research on the program and the problems it seeks to address.