Housing First

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

Housing First is a homeless assistance approach  that prioritizes providing people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing as quickly as possible – and then providing voluntary supportive services as needed. This approach prioritizes client choice in both housing selection and in service participation.

Housing First programs share critical elements:

  • A focus on helping individuals and families access and sustain permanent rental housing as quickly as possible;
  • A variety of services delivered to promote housing stability and individual well-being on an as-needed and entirely voluntary basis; and
  • A standard lease agreement to housing – as opposed to mandated therapy or services compliance.

While all Housing First programs share these elements, program models vary significantly depending upon the population served. For people who have experienced chronic homelessness, long-term services and support may be needed.

For most people experiencing homelessness, however, such long-term services are not necessary. The vast majority of homeless individuals and families fall into homelessness after a housing or personal crisis. For these households, the Housing First approach provides them with short-term assistance to find permanent housing quickly and without conditions. In turn, such households often require only brief, if any, support or assistance to achieve housing stability and individual well-being.


Library Resources

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.
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.
Toolkits | August 24, 2009
This document outlines the key strategies of a Housing First approach - it can help organizations that are planning to use HPRP resources to shift their organization's approach toward a Housing First model.
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.