SOURCE: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University

December 04, 2007 12:47 ET

CASA* Receives $1.6 Million Grant From the Hilton Foundation to Evaluate Housing Program for Homeless With Substance Abuse Problems

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - December 4, 2007) - The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has received a four-year, $1.6 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to fund CASAHOPE - Housing Opportunities Program Evaluation. This new program will test and evaluate New York State/New York City's Housing First program which will provide stable housing to drug and alcohol abusers without first requiring them to have six months of sobriety.

The goal of CASAHOPE is to determine whether Housing First can effectively house substance abusers, move them into recovery, and in the process save taxpayer dollars by reducing health care, criminal justice and other social welfare costs.

"In the past, homeless men and women who were drug and alcohol abusers and addicts could not qualify for stable housing and would end up living on the street, or in temporary shelters, never receiving the needed health care and substance abuse treatment, and taxpayers would be hit with the bill for the resulting crime, social welfare and healthcare costs," said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA's Chairman and President and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. "If you have AIDS or diabetes you don't have to be free of the disease before you're admitted to a supportive housing program. The same should be true for the disease of addiction."

"CASAHOPE presents a unique opportunity to conduct an evaluation of a promising model that could affect the nation's policy for substance-using homeless individuals," said Jon Morgenstern, Ph.D., CASA's Vice President and Director of Health and Treatment Research and Analysis. He is also Professor and Director of Substance Abuse Services, Department of Psychiatry, at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

"We know it is time to try something bold and innovative -- to move in a different direction when it comes to helping those struggling with substance use," said Deborah De Santis, President and CEO of the Corporation for Supportive Housing.

"CASAHOPE will study an important public policy issue with the potential to fundamentally change approaches to chronic homelessness for those with severe substance use disorders," noted Steven M. Hilton, President and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. "This study will shed light on finding solutions to chronic homelessness which is a core focus of the Hilton Foundation."

The study team will be lead by Jon Morgenstern, Ph.D. and Charles J. Neighbors, Ph.D., Associate Director of Health and Treatment Research and Analysis at CASA.

CASA is the only national organization that brings together under one roof all the professional disciplines needed to study and combat all types of substance abuse as they affect all aspects of society. CASA has issued 66 reports and white papers, published one book, conducted demonstration projects focused on children, families and schools at 218 sites in 81 cities and counties in 31 states plus Washington, DC and two Native American tribal reservations, and has been evaluating the effectiveness of drug and alcohol treatment in a variety of programs and drug courts. CASA is the creator of the nationwide initiative Family Day - A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children™ -- the fourth Monday in September -- the 22nd in 2008 -- that promotes parental engagement as a simple and effective way to reduce children's risk of smoking, drinking and using illegal drugs. In May of 2007, CASA Chairman Joseph A. Califano, Jr. called for a fundamental shift in the nation's attitude about substance abuse and addiction with the publication of his book, "HIGH SOCIETY: How Substance Abuse Ravages America and What to Do About It." For more information: www.casacolumbia.org.

To prevent and end homelessness, the nonprofit Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) works with communities across the nation to create permanent affordable housing where people receive high-quality supportive services. Since 1991, it has provided advocacy, expertise, leadership, and financial resources to advance "supportive housing" for people with mental illnesses, substance use problems, and other disabling health conditions. CSH has leveraged over $1 billion for supportive housing and provided nearly $125 million in direct loans and grants -- propelling the development of more than 18,000 high-quality homes for over 23,000 people, including single adults, families with children, and young adults. Another 11,000 units are in the pipeline, and funding for 70,000 affordable homes has been secured through federal, state and local policy reforms. CSH is committed to meeting its ten-year plan of realizing 150,000 new units of supportive housing by 2012. For more information: www.csh.org

Based in Los Angeles, the Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by the late hotel entrepreneur and business leader Conrad N. Hilton, who left his fortune to the Foundation with instructions to help the most disadvantaged and vulnerable throughout the world without regard to religion, ethnicity or geography. The Foundation along with its related entities has assets exceeding $4 billion, and since its inception has provided more than $560 million for charitable projects throughout the world. More than 50 percent of its grants fund international projects. For more information: www.hiltonfoundation.org.

*The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University is neither affiliated with, nor sponsored by, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (also known as "CASA") or any of its member organizations, or any other organizations with the name of "CASA."

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