Homelessness & Community Mental Health

In the mid-1970s, after completing my doctoral degree, I began a systematic research program aimed at understanding the geography and planning of ‘service-dependent’ populations, including mentally disabled and homeless people. This work had three elements: client demand, service delivery, and community opposition (the NIMBY syndrome, for Not-In-My-Back-Yard). In terms of clients, I was the first to demonstrate that ‘patients’ discharged from psychiatric hospitals tended to ‘ghettoize’ in inner city areas close to services designed to assist them. There they were joined by other service-dependent people (including the developmentally disabled, ex-prisoners, the dependent elderly, and so on), drawn by the availability of relatively affordable housing, but also excluded from other neighborhoods through NIMBYism, which explained the absence of services in most other city neighborhoods. In Toronto, I undertook the first large-sample survey of community attitudes toward the mentally disabled, introducing the CAMI scaling instrument (for ‘community attitudes toward mental illness’) which is remains benchmark metric for psychological studies of community attitudes. The results of this project were published as Not on our Street: community attitudes toward mental health care (1982). Read more.

Asylum to Community

Books & Articles

Dear, J.R. Wolch Landscapes of Despair: From Deinstitutionalization to Homelessness Princeton University Press/Polity Press, 1987 (Re-issued, 2014).

Dear, J. Wolch, R. Wilton The Service Hub Concept in Human Services Planning Pergamon Press, 1994.

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For a complete list of books and articles, refer to the full CV

Community Attitudes to Mental Illness | CAMI

Scaling Community Attitudes Toward the Mentally Ill


The ‘Community Attitudes to Mental Illness’ (or CAMI) scale was developed in the late 1970s by Martin Taylor and Michael Dear, professors of geography at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

The survey goal was to measure and explain the bases for neighborhood opposition to community-based mental health facilities in Toronto, Canada. Although techniques for measuring attitudes already existed, CAMI was the first instrument that specifically designed to address attitudes in residential neighborhoods where such facilities existed or were being proposed.

Since that time, the CAMI scale has been in continuous use and applied in many settings world-wide. The original survey acts as a bench-mark for these subsequent studies.

For more information and to download the CAMI Scale, click below.

Books & Articles

For a complete list of books and articles, refer to the full CV


Books & Articles

R. Wolch, M. Dear, Malign Neglect: Homelessness in an American City. Jossey-Bass, 1993.

For a complete list of books and articles, refer to the full CV