This study evaluated the housing preferences of a representative sample of consumers with serious mental illness living in seven types of housing in Montreal, Quebec, and compared these with their case managers' housing preferences for them.
An inventory of all housing for this population was developed in consultation with administrators of three psychiatric hospitals and the regional health board. The inventory included seven categories: housing in a hospital setting, hostels, group homes, foster homes, supervised apartments, social housing (low-income housing or cooperative), and private rooming homes. A stratified random sample of 48 consumers was selected in each category. In all, 315 consumers and their case managers completed the Consumer Housing Preference Survey.
Most consumers preferred living in housing that offered them more autonomy than the housing in which they were currently living. Case managers preferred housing that offered some structure, such as supervised apartments. Forty-four percent of consumers preferred to live in their own apartment. More than a third of consumers preferred to live in their current housing.
When evaluating housing preferences, it is important to elicit the viewpoints of mental health consumers as well as their case managers. Special attention should be given to the type of housing where consumers currently live. A variety of housing, not just autonomous housing, is needed to meet the specific housing preferences of individuals with serious mental illness.