North Carolina housing shortage, instability negatively impact mental health

Housing instability – a set of issues including trouble paying rent, overcrowding, homelessness or spending a large proportion of household income on housing – has been shown to contribute to mental health issues among individuals, especially in recent years Has been observed.

Housing instability is a major issue facing many North Carolina residents. According to data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, approximately 348,000 renter households in North Carolina are at the very low-income level, and 69 percent of these households are severely burdened with housing costs.

The state has a shortage of about 200,000 rental homes for people who fall in the extremely low-income bracket.

Currently, many UNC students are not guaranteed on-campus housing for the 2023-2024 school year. One such student, Bevin Adams, said that the situation has been worrying.

“I just want more communication and just understanding [as to] Why don’t we have housing,” Adams said.

She said she is concerned about the situation, but UNC is currently not providing any mental health resources to students directly affected by the housing shortage in the coming school year.

By 2022, North Carolina is one of the top states for housing instability among college students, with 17 percent of them facing housing insecurity.

Heather Griffin-Dolsini, clinical and operations director at Freedom House Recovery Center in Chapel Hill, said she’s seen housing instability can have a negative impact.

“I think this has a huge impact on the mental health of individuals because housing serves as a foundation of security and stability in people’s lives,” Griffin-Dolcini said.

Griffin-Dolcini said many of the people who work with the Freedom Recovery Center don’t have homes. She said the organization works to help connect these individuals with peer support and case management that will help them find affordable housing.

With these resources, Griffin-Dolcini said the community would benefit from a full spectrum of mental health services, including greater case management and more comprehensive teams that serve the uninsured.

She said many people have both serious mental health and substance use disorders, yet there aren’t many services for those diagnosed.

Carrmore Community is an organization based in Carrboro whose mission is to help adults in North Carolina living with severe and persistent mental illness define their goals and develop the skills to succeed.

According to the Cairmore Community, some individuals with severe and persistent mental illness face barriers to finding employment and accessing affordable and safe housing.

Abby Vaughn, director of admissions and outreach at Caramore Community, said the community changes people’s lives. She also said that they help homeless individuals live independently by teaching them skills such as cooking, shopping, maintaining a job, and socializing.

“We’ve had people graduate our program and then become certified to be peer support specialists and then become Carrmore employees serving Carrmore customers,” Vaughn said. “So, people go on to live independently and live a fulfilling life, very often, as long as they complete our program.”

Vaughn said the community offers a variety of housing programs designed to serve people with severe mental illness. These services include vocational rehabilitation, transitional housing, peer support, and personal support services.

Although Carmore offers a variety of services, Vaughn said the community should provide more mental health resources to those facing housing instability. Carmore has some eligibility requirements, she said, including that a person must have a health care provider and be medication-compliant.

“A lot of times, people can’t come to our program because they don’t have the resources to hire a provider, they can’t get a doctor, they can’t afford their medication,” Vaughn said.

Making the drug available to people is a big step in helping people get resources, he said, because without it, some individuals may have difficulty finding housing.

Griffin-Dolsini said that access to housing security can make all the difference for some individuals because they are able to move forward with uninterrupted mental health care.

“They are able to find work in the communities where they live, to be able to support themselves and to be able to afford their housing,” Griffin-Dolsini said. “They are able to create friend groups and that extra layer of security that comes with a stable place to live and an unchanging group of companions.”

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@DTHCityState , [email protected]

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