Housing First

Housing First is an approach that emphasizes stable, permanent housing as a primary strategy for ending homelessness.

Housing First is an approach to ending homelessness that centers on providing people experiencing homelessness with housing as quickly as possible – and then providing services as needed. This approach has the benefit of being consistent with what most people experiencing homelessness want and seek help to achieve.

Housing First programs share critical elements:

  • A focus on helping individuals and families access and sustain permanent rental housing as quickly as possible without time limits;
  • A variety of services delivered to promote housing stability and individual well-being on an as-needed basis; and
  • A standard lease agreement to housing – as opposed to mandated therapy or services compliance.


While all Housing First programs share these critical elements, program models vary significantly depending upon the population served. For people who have experienced chronic homelessness, there is an expectation that intensive (and often specialized) services will be needed indefinitely.

For most people experiencing homelessness, however, such intensive services are not necessary. The vast majority of homeless individuals and families fall into homelessness after a housing or personal crisis that led them to seek help from the homeless assistance system. For these families and individuals, the Housing First approach is ideal, as it provides them with assistance to find permanent housing quickly and without conditions. In turn, such clients of the homeless assistance networks need surprisingly little support or assistance to achieve independence, saving the system considerable costs.

Spotlight

Library Resources

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Webinar | January 25, 2010
On January 21, 2010, the Alliance hosted a Webinar highlighting the efforts of Alameda County, CA to adopt a Housing First approach across its entire homelessness assistance system. Key strategies and lessons were discussed.
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Toolkits | November 19, 2009
This tool is designed to help communities identify possible partners and accountable agencies within their Housing First system based on the three main outcomes of a Housing First system: prevention of homelessness, reduction in the length of time of homelessness, and decreased recidivism.
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Solutions Brief | November 27, 2006
Housing First is an approach that centers on providing homeless people with housing quickly and then providing services as needed. What differentiates a Housing First approach from other strategies is that there is an immediate and primary focus on helping individuals and families quickly access and sustain permanent housing. This approach has the benefit of being consistent with what most people experiencing homelessness want and seek help to achieve.
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Solutions Brief | November 27, 2006
Answers to questions frequently asked about housing first for families and individuals.