About Housing First

Quick Overview about Housing First!

Housing First is an approach to ending homelessness that centers on providing people experiencing chronically and episodically homeless conditions with housing as quickly as possible – and then providing needed services. 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 for longer duration.

  • 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 recognized as an important policy towards ending homelessness by both the Canadian and the United States federal governments.
  • 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.