APA Awards

Awards Given By The American Psychological Association

Congratulations to Sam Tsemberis: 2016 Winner of the APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Independent Practice

Sam TsemberisFor his extensive working on understanding and alleviating homelessness Sam Tsemberis received APA’s 2016 Award for Distinguished Contributions to Independent Practice. Upon joining a psychiatric outreach team working with New York City’s chronically homeless population, Dr. Tsemberis came to believe that people with severe psychiatric disabilities and co-occurring conditions could remain housed independently if simply offered housing without prerequisites for psychiatric treatment or sobriety and if provided adequate support and services. He implemented this “Housing First model” with a $500,000 grant from New York State in 1992 and founded Pathways to Housing.

Pathways seeks to end chronic homelessness for this population by placing clients in independent apartments scattered throughout a community. With him as CEO, Pathways expanded, operating in Washington, DC and Philadelphia and a rural program in Vermont. The model has been replicated in more than 40 cities across the U.S. and in major cities in Canada, Europe and Australia. Sam Tsemberis was instrumental in helping the Canadian government implement Housing First on a national scale. Numerous research studies have consistently reported an 85% retention rate of Pathways-housed residents when the program is operated with high program fidelity to the model.

The program’s effectiveness was endorsed by the U.S. Interagency Council on the Homeless, HUD, and the National Center on Veterans’ Homelessness. It is listed in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Registry of Evidence Based Programs. He has received recognition and numerous awards for his commitment, innovation and advocacy, including the (2005) American Psychiatric Association’s Gold Award for excellence in community mental health and Division 27’s 2014 Distinguished Practice award.

The Housing First model started as a radical model but has evolved into the global gold standard for ending chronic homelessness for adults with psychiatric disabilities. To quote Dr. Bebout, himself a passionate advocate for this population: "We all thought the world was flat, and here was this guy telling us it was round.”

Read more in this article from the Washington Post. 

Meet the outsider who accidentally solved chronic homelessness

Housing First: Ending Homelessness, Transforming Lives, and Changing Communities

Sam Tsemberis at TedX, Moses Brown School

Past APA Award Winners

Leonard Jason: 2015 Winner of APA Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Applied Research

Lonnie Snowden: 2014 Winner of APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy

Tom Wolff: 2014 Winner of APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Independent Practice

Gary Melton: 2014 Winner of APA Senior Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest

Michelle Fine: 2013 Winner of APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy

Keith Humphreys: 2009 Winner of APA Award for Early Career Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest

Rebecca Campbell: 2008 Winner of APA Award for Early Career Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest

Gary W. Harper: 2007 Winner of APA Award for Early Career Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest

James G. Kelly: 1997 Winner of APA Award for Senior Career Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest

Emory L. Cowen: 1989 Winner of APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy

Gary Melton: 1985 Winner of APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy

Seymour Sarason: 1984 Winner of APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest