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Housing First



From the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness:


Housing First is a proven method of ending all types of homelessness and is the most effective approach to ending chronic homelessness. Housing First offers individuals and families experiencing homelessness immediate access to permanent affordable or supportive housing. Without clinical prerequisites like completion of a course of treatment or evidence of sobriety and with a low-threshold for entry, Housing First yields higher housing retention rates, lower returns to homelessness, and significant reductions in the use of crisis service and institutions.  Due its high degree of success, Housing First is identified as a core strategy for ending homelessness in Opening Doors: the Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness and has become widely adopted by national and community-based organizations as a best practice for solving homelessness.  


For more information, see the National Alliance to End Homelessness 


We recommend the following articles, which provide more details about the effectiveness of housing first policy:


"There's no place like home in health care: Housing the homeless is key to controlling costs.", June 16, 2014

Elizabeth Buck and Jeffrey Brenner of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers highlight the effectiveness of housing first in terms of cost savings and improved healthcare outcomes in contrast to current policies.


"Home Free" The New Yorker, September 22, 2014

James Surowiecki explains how housing first policy was able to dramatically reduce chronic homelessness in Utah and highlights the fiscal benefits of the shift in our way of thinking of social programs.


Some examples of Housing First programs in New Jersey include:


   1.   The Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Services Center


The Center focuses on collaboration and a Housing First-approach to shelter, which has led to tremendous success; by the end of 2014, the Center had housed over 700 of its formerly homeless clients, and of these, about 20% were at one time considered chronically homeless. Everyone who walks through the Center's doors is quickly evaluated for housing placement, which is always the end goal. Service providers work together to provide case management and housing placement among many other services.


   2.   Greater Trenton Behavioral Healthcare (GTBH)


The Housing First program provides housing to chronically homeless individuals and families,. There is no requirement for tenants to participate in services, however support is offered in many areas including landlord/neighbor relationships, employment, linkage to services, illness management and recovery services, etc. Rental subsidies are provided, and 24 hour on-call is available. GTBH's model has achieved a 78 percent decline in annual hospital inpatient and emergency costs as reported in NJ Spotlight (October 1, 2014).


   3.    United Way of Hudson County's HousingFirst/Collaborative Solutions program


The program has provided permanent, affordable and supportive scattered-site housing since 2006. The goal of the program is to help participants obtain and remain in permanent housing, increase their skills and income and achieve greater self-determination. UWHC locates suitable apartments throughout the community for program participants and provides rental subsidies, case management and supportive services to help stabilize their housing situation.  With the awarding of three new grants, the program will soon be expanding to permanently house more individuals and families.





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