The financial viability of housing for mentally ill persons

Joseph Harkness, Sandra Newman, George Galster, James Reschovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although persons with serious mental illness experience significant unmet housing needs, basic information on how housing is successfully financed, developed, and operated for them is lacking. It is possible that standard housing rules of thumb may not apply to this population. (For example, community opposition may raise development costs.) This lack of information may be a stumbling block to policy makers, planners, and developers. This article attempts to close the gap by examining the financial profile of 153 properties developed for persons with serious mental illness by five nonprofit housing corporations between 1988 and 1992. Our analysis suggests that although this housing may require more management attention, it is not fundamentally different from market-rate housing for low-income tenants. After more than 10 years, the nonprofit housing developers continue to thrive, and virtually all of the properties continue to serve persons with mental illness, demonstrating that such housing can be successfully developed and operated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-170
Number of pages38
JournalHousing Policy Debate
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004


  • Homelessness
  • Nonprofit housing
  • Underserved markets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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