Cities of Opportunity
Healthy People, Thriving Communities

Mental illness, substance use disorder, and homelessness pose significant, interconnected challenges for cities as they affect millions of people nationally. Traditional approaches to addressing these challenges have proven less than effective. Many individuals with mental illness, substance use disorder, and/or homelessness lack access to important health and social services. Responses often have funneled vulnerable populations into emergency departments, jails, and prisons, imposing both human and financial costs. Cities across the country are implementing innovative approaches to improve outcomes. Newer approaches in emergency response and crisis stabilization prioritize programming that increases the capacity of first responders to safely deescalate emergency situations involving individuals with mental illness, substance use disorder, and/or experiencing homelessness. These approaches improve outcomes through diversion to treatment and services.


  • Series of three issue briefs and nine case studies produced in 2019 in partnership with Arnold Ventures, available here
  • Blog post on addressing deaths of despair during the COVID-19 pandemic: “COVID Exacerbates Loss of Hope, Solution in Leading Causes of Life”
  • In partnership with APA, a webinar on Taking Care of Your Community : RECORDING
  • Housing is Health webinar series: “City Strategies to Support Homeless and At-Risk Residents in Light of COVID-19” recording

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