This module is an overview of the Housing First approach. It is organized into three sections: (i) Key Messages, (ii) Key Questions, and (iii) Appendices & Resources.

  • The Key Messages section gives a brief overview of the Housing First model, how it works, and what it has been shown to achieve.
  • The Key Questions section is organized into a series of general questions about the Housing First model. Each question can be “clicked” on to reveal in-depth answers.
  • Finally, the Appendices & Resources section contains additional information about Housing First, including external links to online resources.



Key Messages

• Housing First is a consumer-driven approach that provides immediate access to permanent housing, in addition to flexible, community-based services for people who have experienced homelessness.

• Housing First provides housing without requiring psychiatric treatment or sobriety as determinants of “housing readiness.”

• Housing First draws from a harm reduction approach and a recovery orientation.

• Housing First emerged in the early 1980’s in the United States in response to the failure of traditional treatment to impact the “chronically homeless.”

• The goal of Housing First is to end chronic homelessness by providing immediate housing and then working with participants to promote recovery and wellbeing.

• The core principles of Housing First are: immediate access to housing with no housing readiness requirements; consumer choice and self-determination, which is enabled through the provision of a rent supplement; individualized, client-driven, and recovery-oriented supports; separation of housing and services; harm reduction; and community integration.

• Housing First has been recognized as an important policy towards ending homelessness by both the Canadian and the United States federal governments.

• Housing First has been shown to: increase housing stability; improve quality of life, and improve health and addiction outcomes; reduce involvement with police and the justice system; reduce costs associated with justice system and health expenditures; and reduce hospitalization and emergency visits.

• Housing First has been implemented in both Canada and the United States, in addition to several European countries.

• Housing First can be adapted to many local contexts, including rural jurisdictions and areas with low vacancy rates.

• Housing First is a program model, a systems approach, as well as a philosophy.