Building a Foundation of Wellbeing that Unleashes Human Potential
The health and wellbeing of our entire community relies on the strength of our neighborhoods and the supports available to the persons in those neighborhoods. When neighborhood health and wellbeing is threatened by breakdowns in social capital we diminish our capacity to unleash our community’s full human potential.
Social Capital (N): the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively.
The foundation for unleashing our human potential.
Housing First is an approach to homeless assistance that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, thus ending their homelessness and serving as a platform from which they can pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life.
This approach is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a place to live before attending to anything less critical, such as getting a job, budgeting properly, or attending to substance use issues. Additionally, Housing First is based on the theory that client choice is valuable in housing selection and supportive service participation, and that exercising that choice is likely to make a client more successful in remaining housed and improving their life.
Supportive services are offered to support people with stability and individual well-being, but participation is not required as services have been found to be more effective when a person chooses to engage.
A Universally Holistic Approach to Improving Community Wellbeing
The flexible and responsive nature of a Housing First approach allows it to be tailored to support anyone. As such, a Housing First approach can be applied to help end homelessness for a household who became homeless due to a temporary personal or financial crisis and has limited service needs, only needing help accessing and securing permanent housing. At the same time, Housing First has been found to be particularly effective approach to end homelessness for high need populations, such as chronically homeless individuals.
What are the elements of a housing first program? Housing First programs often provide rental assistance that varies in duration depending on the household’s needs. Households sign a standard lease and are able to access supports as necessary to help them do so.
Two evidenced based interventions, differing in implementation.
Does Housing First work?
Yes! There is a large and growing body of evidence demonstrating that Housing First is an effective solution to homelessness. The practice produces results wherein-by households access housing faster and maintain it longer.
This is true for both permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing programs.
- Permanent supportive housing has a long-term housing retention rate of up to 98 percent.
- Rapid re-housing helps people exit homelessness quickly. In our community, that can be as little as 3-days.
- Studies show that between 75 percent and 91 percent of households remain housed a year after being rapidly re-housed.
More extensive studies have been completed on permanent supportive housing. These findings reveal that clients report an increase in perceived levels of autonomy, choice, and control in Housing First programs. A majority of clients are found to participate in the optional supportive services provided, often resulting in greater housing stability.
Clients using supportive services are more likely to participate in job training programs, attend school, discontinue substance use, have fewer instances of domestic violence, and spend fewer days hospitalized than those not participating.
Finally, permanent supportive housing has been found to be cost efficient. Providing access to housing generally results in cost savings for communities because housed people are less likely to use emergency services, including hospitals, jails, and emergency shelter, compared to those who are homeless. One study found an average cost savings on emergency services of $31,545 per person housed in a Housing First program over the course of two years. Another study showed that a Housing First program could cost up to $23,000 less per consumer per year than a shelter program.