Consumer employment has increased notably in homeless services as well as in self-help and consumer-operated programs for mental health consumers. Outcome studies show peer service delivery is effective and distinctive, but requires appropriate institutional support.
- Implications for Service Recipients
- With adequate support and accommodation, peer staffing in homelessness programs is as effective as traditional services in helping service recipients spend less time homeless.
- Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) programs are expanding opportunities for consumer staffing, but as yet there is no research evaluating the effects of these programs on homelessness or other outcomes.
- New research on consumer-operated services shows that recovery-related program features are associated with improved well-being; but the research was not designed to examine effects on homelessness.
- Implications for Service Processes and for Homeless Service Systems
- Consumer-provided services share distinctive emphases (e.g., respect, support, and agency) and a work culture emphasizing support and less use of authority to leverage compliance.
- Integrating consumer staff into traditional settings requires providing preparation, support, and supervision and addressing boundary issues, stigma, and discrimination.
- Implications for Ending or Preventing Homelessness at a Population Level
- Consumer-staffed and consumer-run programs have not typically focused on the system-level changes required to end homelessness at a population level.