Mental Health in PA

Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH)

Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) grant is funded by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Mental Health Services. PATH was created as part of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Amendments Act of 1990.

Since 1991, PATH has funded the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and four U.S. Territories (the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). The goal of the PATH Program is to reduce or eliminate homelessness for individuals with serious mental illnesses or serious mental illness and substance use disorders who experience homelessness or are at imminent risk of becoming homeless. PATH funds are used to provide a menu of allowable services, including street outreach, case management, and services which are not supported by mainstream mental health programs. Since PATH is not HUD-funded, PATH funds often can be used to supplement and fill in cracks left by HUD limitations.

OMHSAS distributes funds to 24 county/joinder MH/ID program offices, which cover 36 of PA's 67 counties, to provide PATH services. Many of these offices sub-contract with local community providers to provide PATH services.

Through its services, PATH links a vulnerable population who experience persistent and pervasive health disparities to mainstream and other supportive services. Collectively these efforts help homeless individuals with serious mental illness secure safe and stable housing, improve their health, and live a self-directed, purposeful life.

SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance use and mental illness on America's communities by improving the quality and availability of substance use prevention, alcohol and drug use treatment, and mental health services. To achieve this mission, SAMHSA has identified five Strategic Initiatives to focus the Agency's work. The PATH program is part of SAMHSA's Recovery Support Strategic Initiative, which includes goals to improve the physical and behavioral health of individuals with mental health disorders, increase access to permanent housing, increase attainment of employment, and increase social supports.

PATH grants are authorized under Section 521 et seq. of the Public Health Service Act, as amended. This announcement addresses Healthy People 2020 Mental Health and Mental Disorders Topic Area HP 2020-MHMD.

The PATH program collects data through Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) format. PATH grantees are encouraged to collect and use data to: (1) identify the number of individuals to be served during the grant period and identify subpopulations (i.e., racial, ethnic, sexual, and gender minority groups) vulnerable to behavioral health disparities; (2) implement a quality improvement plan for the use of program data on access, use, and outcomes to support efforts to decrease the differences in access to, use, and outcomes of service activities; and (3) identify methods for the development of policies and procedures to ensure adherence to the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care.

Participation in HMIS provides a platform for coordinating care and improving client access to mainstream programs and housing resources. This practice is effective in reducing duplicative intakes by numerous agencies within the Continuum of Care (CoC), thus increasing productivity and reducing service costs. It also helps enhance service providers' understanding of clients' needs. Use of HMIS for PATH enables SAMHSA to report reliable and consistent data on the performance of the PATH program. SAMHSA will continue to partner with HUD to support states and providers in collecting data through HMIS.

Per legislation, PATH-eligible services include:

  • Outreach services;
  • Screening and diagnostic treatment services;
  • Habilitation and rehabilitation services;
  • Community mental health services, including recovery support services (e.g., peer specialist/recovery coaches);
  • Alcohol or drug treatment services;
  • Staff training, including the training of individuals who work in shelters, mental health clinics, substance use programs, and other sites where individuals who experience homelessness require services;
  • Case management services, including:
    • Preparing a plan for the provision of community mental health services to eligible homeless individuals, and reviewing such plan not less than once every 3 months;
    • Providing assistance in obtaining and coordinating social and maintenance services for eligible individuals who experience homelessness, including services related to daily living activities, peer support services, personal financial planning, transportation services, habilitation and rehabilitation services, prevocational and vocational services, and housing services;
    • Providing assistance to eligible individuals who experience homelessness in obtaining income support services, including housing assistance, food stamps, and supplemental security income benefits;
    • Referring eligible individuals who experience homelessness for such other services, as may be appropriate; and
    • Providing representative payee services in accordance with section 1631(a)(2) of the Social Security Act if the eligible individuals who experience homelessness are receiving aid under title XVI of such act and if the applicant is designated by the Secretary to provide such services;
  • Referral for primary health services, job training, educational services, and relevant housing services; and,
  • Housing services, as specified in Section 522(b)(10) of the Public Health Service Act, as amended, including minor renovation, expansion, and repair of housing;
  • Planning of housing;
  • Technical assistance in applying for housing assistance;
  • Improving the coordination of housing services;
  • Security deposits;
  • Costs associated with matching eligible individuals who are experiencing homelessness with appropriate housing situations; and
  • One-time rental payments to prevent eviction.
  • Other appropriate services, as determined by the Secretary.

Although PATH funds can be used to support this array of services, applicants are encouraged to use these resources to fund street outreach, case management, and services that are not financially supported by mainstream services and/or behavioral health programs.