[Hpn] Request for feedback
Wed, 15 Mar 2006 07:25:17 -0800
Currently I am working with the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team.
The team leader, a psychiatrist with public health and I have been
talking about the pluses and minus of attempting to get accepted (by the
larger community, the Department of Public Health, homeless advocates,
and the nation) the idea of doctors being able to prescribe housing for
He and I have had a spirited discussion about many of the aspects of
this. My objections have been that lack of housing shouldn't be
medicalized, that housing itself is not treatment (its a right), and
that if it has any relation to treatment, its as the container of the
drug rather than the drug itself. My concern is that by medicalizing
housing as a prescription for especially vulnerable homeless people we
start defining a hierarchy of need and also allow doctors a lot of power
to decide based on potentially vague criteria who should have housing.
(I have other objections, but these are the main ones).
He feels that housing is a kind of treatment for certain homeless folks
who have medical problems and can't get better without it, that by being
able to prescribe housing to those who have additional vulnerability
(psych, heavy substance abuse, physical health problems) there is a
greater chance of being able to really help those folks. He likes, I
think, the idea that one should be able to prescribe housing for those
who need it, and get that prescription 'filled' fast and readily as a
matter of medical necessity, just like you'd go get an antibiotic at the
drugstore. I respond that usually its the social workers, such as myself
whom the doctor tells 'get housing for this client' and then we go to
work to find it and get the person into the housing. Making it a
prescription eliminates some of the opportunities for others who may
have just as much need but not be hooked up to the right doctor.
And so we go, around and around on this topic. I am curious to know what
people on the list think.
What I am requesting is that if you have feedback on this topic, please
be as specific as you can, either pro or con. What do you think, and
why? What are the implications of what you think?
psychiatric social worker/formerly homeless
San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team
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