What Is Housing First?
Housing First is an evidence-based practice that looks at housing as a tool, rather than a reward, for recovery. It is an approach to ending homelessness that centers on providing permanent housing first and then providing services as needed and requested. Pioneered by Dr. Sam Tsemberis from Pathways to Housing in New York City, Housing First believes that any person experiencing homelessness is ready for housing.
This approach is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a place to live before attending to anything less critical, such as getting a job, budgeting properly, or attending to substance use issues. Additionally, Housing First is based on the belief that client choice is valuable in housing selection and supportive service participation; exercising that choice is likely to make a client more successful in remaining housed and improving their life.
Positive Outcomes of Housing First
A proven method of ending all types of homelessness and the most effective approach to ending chronic homelessness, Housing First offers individuals and families experiencing homelessness immediate access to permanent affordable or supportive housing. Without clinical prerequisites like completion of a course of treatment or evidence of sobriety and, with a low threshold for entry, Housing First yields higher housing retention rates, lower returns to homelessness and significant reductions in the use of crisis services and institutions. Due to its high degree of success, Housing First is identified as a core strategy for ending homelessness in Opening Doors: the Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness and has become widely adopted by national and community-based organizations as a best practice for solving homelessness.
Housing First Checklist from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness