Housing First is an approach to quickly and successfully connect people experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions or barriers such as sobriety, treatment, or service participation requirements, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Supportive services are offered to maximize housing stability and prevent returns to homelessness as opposed to addressing predetermined treatment goals prior to permanent housing entry. The model was popularized by Sam Tsemberis and Pathways to Housing in New York in the 1990s.

Numerous studies show that housing first participants experience higher levels of housing retention and use fewer emergency and criminal justice services, which produces cost savings in emergency department use, inpatient hospitalizations, and criminal justice system use.

  • 75% and 91% of households remain housed a year after being rapidly re-housed, according to multiple studies.
  • $31,545 in cost savings per person housed, according to one study
  • Another study showed that a Housing First program could cost up to $23,000 less per consumer per year than a shelter program.

Header Photo by Tom Rumble on Unsplash