The difficulty in achieving good quality community mental health care for homeless people has received increasing attention during the last few years. Less consideration has been given to the provision of inpatient care. By comparing data collected before and after its inception, we examined the impact of a specialist community mental health team for homeless people on ‘no fixed abode’ admissions in Birmingham. Although the team was successfully involved in the admission and discharge process in a substantial proportion of cases, many admissions still took place out of hours and involved the police, while discharge was often against medical advice and occurred without follow-up. These findings and their implications for the provision of homeless services are discussed.