The objective of this Module is to provide an overview of key issues involved in planning a Housing First program. The planning process entails developing a program model, engaging and collaborating with key stakeholders, deciding who does what, where, and when, and developing a preliminary evaluation plan. After reading this Module, you should be knowledgeable about:
- Key Housing First planning tasks and issues;
- Common challenges in planning a Housing First program;
- Strategies for overcoming planning challenges.
The information in this Module was informed by research findings from the At Home/Chez Soi project and consultations with stakeholder groups with experience planning a Housing First program. This interactive Module consists of a Key Messages section, which provides a concise summary of the information presented. The Planning Tasks section outlines central steps in planning a Housing First program, from considering gaps in the existing system to developing an evaluation plan for your program. The Challenges and Strategies section describes several challenges that groups may encounter during the planning process, as well as experience-based strategies for addressing these challenges. This Module also includes helpful Appendices related to planning a Housing First program. The Appendices includes a Planning Checklist, reports and articles on planning a Housing First program, resources written by people with lived experience, resources on recruiting landlords, and documents describing policies and protocols related to planning, based on the At Home/Chez Soi project sites. Several features are integrated throughout the Module, including pertinent videos.
- Planning a Housing First program entails choosing a program model, engaging and collaborating with key stakeholders, deciding who does what, where, and when, and developing a preliminary evaluation plan.
- Common challenges encountered during the planning process include confusion, resistance and concerns about Housing First, challenges in developing an effective decision making process, issues surrounding how to adapt the program to meet the specific needs of the community while maintaining fidelity to the HF model, and securing funding.
- Strategies for addressing confusion, resistance, and concerns about Housing First include addressing misconceptions about Housing First right away; framing Housing First as a way to add innovative services; establishing the right team at an early stage; engaging local, provincial, and national champions of Housing First; gaining community support; describing potential economic benefits; communicating about Housing First through staff training; and challenging negative staff perceptions of the participant population.
- Strategies for developing an effective decision-making process include using a cross-sectorial approach; establishing a culture of problem solving and learning; providing clarity about staff roles and responsibilities; and engaging the voices of people with lived experience.
- Strategies for adapting Housing First to meet specific community needs include anticipating challenges unique to the program context early; creating relationships with landlords; and developing an evaluation process.
- Strategies for securing funding for a Housing First program include understanding various funding streams relevant to housing and services in the given context; reaching out to funded Housing First programs in other areas to share experiences; and considering funding from multiple sources.