A Silent Struggle: Mental Health and Housing Stability

Did you know? Approximately 20-30% of Americans experiencing homelessness live with a serious mental illness, compared to just 4-6% of the general population.


As we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month this May, there’s no better time to shine a light on the reality of health and housing. Mental illness can be both a cause and consequence of homelessness, creating a complex cycle that can only be addressed through coordinated intervention and support.


Living with a mental illness can be alienating and overwhelming, making it difficult to hold down a stable job or maintain personal relationships. Many who need care for psychological conditions may not be able to access or afford it – an issue that disproportionately impacts Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous Americans, and especially men of color


Conversely, homelessness can exacerbate existing health problems, physical or psychological. Poor nutrition, unsafe living situations, lack of access to basic amenities for hygiene, and reduced social contact with friends and family all take a toll on well-being.


That’s why the Housing First approach is so critical – and why we put it into practice here at Pathlight HOME. Whether a person experiences homelessness due to mental illness or another factor – such as economic instability, domestic violence, emancipation from foster care, or family disputes – they can’t effectively recover from those setbacks until their basic needs of shelter and security are met. 


Stereotypes and stigma aren’t an answer to homelessness; they’re a barrier to overcome. Pathlight HOME gives people a safe place to stay long-term, without conditions or judgment. Once they have stability, they can work with a case manager to access care for health conditions, build a financial plan, and make progress toward an independent future.


You can help Central Floridians find their path to a long-term home by volunteering, donating household goods on our Resident Wish List, or making a financial contribution to our cause. To learn more about our mission, send us a message or give us a call at 407-521-6335. 

Pathlight HOME Announces Carl W. Falconer as New CEO

After a nationwide search, Pathlight HOME has named Carl W. Falconer as its new chief executive officer. 


As CEO of Pathlight HOME, Falconer will lead Central Florida’s first and largest provider of permanent supportive housing. Since its inception, Pathlight has helped house more than 7,000 individuals. The organization's core programs and services include permanent supportive housing, career training, and a drop-in center for those experiencing homelessness and mental illness.


“Carl W. Falconer is a visionary leader with three decades of experience in the public and private sectors, specializing in homelessness and human services,” shared Pathlight HOME Baord chair Jann Rigell. “ His dedication to driving positive social change and empowering individuals to achieve self-sufficiency reflects a deep-rooted commitment to creating a more equitable society.”


Falconer most recently served as CEO of Homeward Bound WNC in Asheville, NC. He also served as CEO of TaskForce Fore Ending Homelessness in Fort Lauderdale, where he led a dynamic team focused on serving the unsheltered homeless population in Broward County. Notable achievements include doubling agency funding in less than two years.


With a proven track record of leadership and innovation, Falconer also held leadership positions at the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, where he led systemic changes that led to a two percent decrease in overall homelessness, and Lutheran Services Florida Health Systems, where he championed initiatives to maximize the impact of federal resources for housing and homeless services.


“I strongly believe we can end homelessness,” said Carl Falconer, CEO of Pathlight HOME. I am excited to find innovative ways to provide safe and affordable housing for those in need in our community.”


Falconer is an Army veteran with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Florida. He is married with two wonderful children and a grand puppy. In his free time, Falconer enjoys the outdoors and attending football games.