As described in the Planning Module, it is critical to gain stakeholder and community support for the Housing First approach. Maintaining support for the Housing First approach is a crucial component of long-term sustainability. However, a common challenge faced by programs is diminishing support for Housing First. For instance, community support for Housing First can become a challenge if difficult tenancies are publicized, or if there is a crisis, such as a highly publicized police incident with a Housing First participant. Additionally, the community can exhibit fatigue or disinterest about the issue of homelessness over time.
What are strategies for maintaining community support for the Housing First approach?
1. Effectively Manage Risk
Being able to normalize and anticipate risk is the key to getting â€śout in frontâ€ť of any incidents and making sure that these donâ€™t become the overriding public perception of your program. Effective Housing First practice involves maintaining proactive and responsive relationships with landlords so that difficult issues between participants and other tenants or members of the general public can be sensitively addressed.
2. Communicate Program Successes
Beyond avoiding bad press, you should be able to communicate success stories to the public and develop a reputation as community leaders and assets. One strategy is to develop a â€śspeakers bureauâ€ť of participants who are trained and supported to make public presentations about their experience in the program, and can clearly demonstrate what the program has meant to them and how it has changed their lives. According to some Housing First program leaders, program success can bring more scrutiny. As the program becomes increasingly known and recognized by the community, ongoing transparency and accountability are especially important.