“Housing First is an approach to quickly and successfully connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions and barriers to entry, such as sobriety, treatment or service participation requirements,” according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Many Nashville direct service providers still shy away from Housing First because in our community we do not sufficiently explain what Housing First means. In comparison, California adopted a law last week that requires that all state-level funders and programs provide Housing First to anyone experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.
USICH recently distributed a Housing First check list that explains the core elements of a Housing First program and then explains the core elements of Housing First at the community level.
At the program level, a true Housing First program has low entry barriers, services are not tied to the right to housing, services offered are tenant-driven, etc.
Sam Tsemberis has built a program that serves as a national model for Housing First. His program called Pathways Housing First, He speaks about Housing First in this video clip.
Other Housing First programs may be known as permanent supportive housing or Rapid Re-housing, etc. Even emergency shelters can adopt a Housing First philosophy by focusing on offering services or linking people to services that assist them with permanent housing quickly.
At the community level, Housing First refers to creating a system that offers streamlined, user-friendly services with a housing-focus. In addition, community stakeholders from different sectors including policy makers, funders, and providers come together to develop common strategies for assisting people with housing.