Housing First is Not Housing Only

Partners for HOME’s homeless response for the City of Atlanta is rooted in Housing First.  Housing First prioritizes access to permanent housing solutions for people experiencing homelessness, followed by access to wraparound support services that will help them maintain self-sufficiency once housing is received.  

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 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.

Housing First does not mean housing only. To achieve lasting self-sufficiency, we recognize that a person must also be able to have access to support services — such as substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling and therapy, employment, and so on — to achieve self-sufficiency. A common misconception with Housing First is that is eliminates the need for wraparound support services. As opposed to a Treatment First philosophy, Housing First builds the foundation for self-sufficiency by addressing the immediate need for a safe and stable roof over one’s head. 

While there are many critics to Housing First, we know that effective implementation of this philosophy involves housing. The need for permanent housing solutions for those experiencing homelessness has recently been  exacerbated by the ongoing housing crisis in the United States. In addition to low inventory, sky-rocketing rents and a investor-dominated marketed has made it more difficult to obtain units that can be used for individuals and families impacted by homelessness.  

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