“A home should be the secure foundation that makes it easier to solve your problems.”   Juha Kaakinen, CEO of the Y-Foundation

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

Real-world data shows Housing First participants experience higher levels of housing retention and use fewer emergency and criminal justice services. This in turn results in cost savings in emergency room visits, inpatient hospitalizations, and the criminal justice system.

For more information and examples of Housing First in action:

  • This resource page from the Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative at PSU has links to many research papers and reports on Housing First.
  • This report from The Guardian describes the results of a Housing First policy in Helsinki, Finland.  Since their 2008 launch, the number of long-term homeless people has decreased by more than a third, and the number of people sleeping outside is now essentially zero. Today this city of 650,000 people needs only one 50-bed shelter.