Housing First is an approach to tackling homelessness that centers on providing homeless people with housing quickly and then providing services as needed—rather than delivering services to people who are living on the streets.
"We've seen support without housing and we've seen housing without support and neither of those have worked well for our friends that are chronically homeless and we've become convinced that this is a great way of addressing the need that many of our friends face."
Housing First places homeless adults in stable housing without requiring them to first complete any social services. Voluntary support services are available as needed, but not required to participate in the housing program. 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 funds, or attending to substance abuse or mental health issues.
Housing First helps chronically homeless people, as well as people experiencing homelessness after a housing or personal crisis. Housing First provides them with quick, short-term assistance without conditions that would delay them in attaining housing. Housing First can also provide stable and permanent housing for individuals in need of other mental health and substance abuse treatment needs. The flexible and responsive nature of the program allows it to be tailored to help anyone.
To estimate the impact of a program or policy, we use systematic literature reviews to determine causal pathways and effect sizes. Well-researched interventions that have robust, high-quality evaluations allow us to model the impact of an intervention with greater certainty. However, sometimes interventions have limited evidence and not all of the outcomes that are likely to be associated with the intervention have been studied. In those cases, we can only model what is available in the evidence base. We urge future research to take the following gaps into consideration.
Long-term Outlook: More research is needed on the long-term results of the Housing First program, specifically how many people are still in stable housing, employed, and not abusing alcohol or drugs after five or more years have passed.