What is Housing First?

Posted on March 19, 2010. Filed under: Homelessness | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

From 2007-2009 in Sacramento County, chronic homelessness decreased by 34.8%

While in general homelessness has increased in the County, these numbers show that the best practices model that our 10-Year Plan promotes–Housing First and Permanent Supportive Housing–is working to end homelessness.

Folks who are chronically homeless make up about 17% of all homeless individuals in Sacramento, yet utilize the majority of resources available. Chronically homeless individuals are some of the most vulnerable members of our population, and on a daily basis face abuse, harrassment, neglect, hunger, thirst and no bed to sleep in at night.

Housing First is a valuable practice because it’s emphasis is “housing” versus “shelter”. As Sacramento’s 10 Year Plan explains, “the driving principle behind Housing First is to get individuals and familes off of the streets and out of shelters and place them as quickly as possible into permanent housing…”

To put it another way, as the great Jonathan Kozal enumerates: The cause of homelessness is lack of housing.

It sounds like common sense, yet with the Housing First approach service providers across America finally have the chance to help provide homeless people…with homes.

And it works, too:

A pilot program in Sacramento that used permanent supportive housing methods found that there was a 92% decrease in the number of clients who were homeless, a 91% increase in the number of clients with health insurance, a 125% increase in the number of clients employed part-time, and a 71% increase in the number of clients receiving wages.

Housing First hasn’t just been working for Sacramento. A great example: the National Alliance to End Homelessness profiled Wichita, KS who, in only 3 years, decreased their levels of chronic homelessness by 61%! (read about it here: http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/article/detail/2601…plus other great success stories)

What is shows is that individuals and families experiencing homelessness are no different from you or me. What they lack is a home. And what they need is a home.

On our website, check out the 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness in Sacramento County (under Goals & Results) to learn more about how our community is implementing Housing First. Or read it here:  http://sacramentostepsforward.com/_pdf/homeless_10yr.pdf

And look out for our 3rd Year Report, with more data coming!

More information on Housing First:

The National Alliance to End Homelessness’s Housing First tool: http://www.endhomelessness.org/section/tools/housingfirst

Beyond Shelter: Housing First, Ending Homelessness: http://www.beyondshelter.org/aaa_initiatives/ending_homelessness.shtml

NPR: Housing First– http://www.npr.org/news/specials/housingfirst/

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