Housing First is a philosophical approach to solving homelessness with two primary components:
- A focus on housing as the solution to homelessness
- A focus on serving those folks with the highest vulnerability first, regardless of the presence of exacerbating circumstances or high housing barriers, without a performance requirement such as substance abuse treatment or sobriety
This means that housing first programs do not require participation in a specific service plan to receive housing assistance, or that a person get and maintain sobriety before housing assistance is provided, or that a person be ‘compliant’ with any service expectations as a condition of housing assistance. This does not mean that there aren’t behavioral expectations such as any tenant may have when they are in housing but that programs do not require participation in a particular service before or as a condition of receiving the assistance. Service plans are helpful and case management is often required, as is the case with rapid re-housing programs, but that they are focused on solving the housing crisis first and are client-driven.
This represents a radical shift in the way housing resource have been distributed in our country and is often very difficult to sustain. Clients who do not receive housing but see people who are addicted get housing may feel that it is unfair. Stakeholders may feel that the resource is going to someone less deserving or that our collective resources are being unwisely distributed to people bound to fail.
Nevertheless, this approach prioritizes people with the highest vulnerability and are, therefore, most likely to die on the street, and most likely to cost the aggregated system of care the most.
TJACH has made a strong commitment to a housing first philosophy and requires this approach for anyone receiving funds through a TJACH-initiated collaborative funding program, such as DHCD, ABRT or HUD funded projects.
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