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.

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