What Does the Term Housing First Mean?
Housing First is an approach that centers on providing people experiencing homelessness with housing quickly and then providing services as needed. What differentiates a Housing First approach from other strategies is that there is an immediate and primary focus on helping individuals and families quickly access and sustain permanent housing. This approach has the benefit of being consistent with what most people experiencing homelessness want and seek help to achieve.
National Alliance to end Homelessness. 2006, November. What is Housing first? Solutions brief. 9 Retrieved from www.endhomelessness.org.
The goal of a Housing First approach is to minimize the time people are homeless, including time spent in emergency shelters and/or transitional housing. To accomplish this, the primary focus of services is to help the individual or family overcome housing barriers and find appropriate housing. Once the individual or family is in their new home, services focus on promoting housing stability, including working out any issues that might arise between the landlord and his/her new tenant. It is only after the individual or family is settled into their new housing that long-term service goals become the primary focus and it is not the homeless programs that provide these services.
What kind of housing assistance is recommended and how can you help individuals and families find housing when there is no affordable housing?
“Housing assistance typically involves helping the individual/family identify appropriate housing options, negotiating with landlords, and intervening when problems develop after housing placement.”
While it should be recognized that locating suitable affordable housing is a significant challenge, it is even harder for individuals and families who lack the support in housing search, overcoming housing barriers and negotiating with landlords that Housing First providers typically provide. There is a pressing need to expand the supply of housing that is affordable to very low income people. In the meanwhile, Housing First providers must continue to develop and refine strategies to maximize existing housing opportunities to make progress in ending homelessness for the people they serve.
“Each community will need to assess its existing resources. A Housing First approach can be adopted by one agency or it can be accomplished through the collaboration of agencies with each providing specialized services.”
National Alliance to End Homelessness. 2006, November. Frequently asked questions about housing first for individuals and for families. Solutions brief. 9 Retrieved from www.endhomelessness.org.
Using the case management and housing services resources it has available as an organization and by working in collaboration with other individuals, organizations and partners in the community and the Lancaster County Continuum of Care, TLC and Tabor Community Services are committed to implementing a Housing First Strategy in accordance with the Lancaster County Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness.
The Housing first strategy is implemented by providing TLC participants with short -term-interim housing, credit and housing counseling and other important services in the context of a safe and supportive Trauma-Informed Care environment, in its efforts to end the cycle of homelessness in our community.