“Housing First” (often referred to as “permanent supportive housing”) is a program in which homeless people are given private quarters to live in, as the first step in their rehabilitation from homelessness.
The old school method of rehabilitating a homeless person back to a life of normalcy required that the homeless person first address and overcome all of his or her personal issues. Then, as a reward for doing so, the homeless person would be given housing assistance. It was expected that the homeless person first stop his addictions, deal with his mental health issues, and become gainfully employed for a period of time.
It was assumed that the issues of addictions and mental illness and unemployment, caused him to become unstable and lose his housing in the first place. But this is just not true – although most people believe it so.
Being that the majority of people with addictions and mental health issues never become homeless, it stands to reason that these are not the issues which cause homelessness. In my estimation, these things are only symptoms of other issues that cause homelessness.
But, regardless of what actually causes homelessness, and despite the old school approach, it has been proven time and again that the best way to rehabilitate a homeless person is to first give him or her a home of their own. (This housing does not have to be extensive. In most cases, the homeless are given SROs – small, one room apartments.) Having the stability that comes with a place of one’s own, homeless people are much better equipped to address all the other issues in their lives – the addictions, the mental health issues, etc. 80% or more of the homeless who have participated in a “Housing First” program have remained housed.
(It is important to note that for “Housing First” to be effective, quality case management must also be assigned to the homeless to help them keep up with sobriety meetings, therapy sessions, employment, etc.)
The other benefit of “Housing First” is that the program saves communities a good deal of money. “Housing First” is much less expensive than allowing the homeless to wander the streets and fend for themselves.
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