Origins of the Housing First
According to the ideological foundation of the U.S. Pathways to Housing Housing First model housing is a fundamental right, that doesn't need to be earned. Housing forms a basis for a psychosocial recovery process. Housing first is considered as a challenger to traditional housing services also known as the staircase or the continuum of care models. Pathways' model moves people who are homeless and suffer from psychiatric disabilities directly from the streets into apartments of their own, which enables community integration. Applications of housing first model that differ from the original Pathways' Housing First approach are found in different parts of the world.
The essential ingredients of Pathways’ Housing First model
According to the founder and the CEO of the Pathways to Housing Sam Tsemberis the Pathways' Housing First fidelity list includes four essential elements. Housing First principles regardless of country or executor can be outlined through these elements.
Consumer Choice Philosophy
Choice drives both clinical and housing services:
- Clients choose the type, frequency and intensity of clinical services they want
- And they choose the location, furnishings and other household items of their apartments
Separation of Housing and Services
Using different criteria for success in housing and success in treatment services:
- Relapse is anticipated; relapse is a clinical problem not a housing problem
- Relapse does not mean eviction or loss of housing
- It means obtaining treatment and returning home
- Similarly, eviction from housing does not mean discharge from the program (it usually means relocation)
- Program commitment is to the person not the housing
Recovery Oriented Services
Recovery after homelessness
- Instilling hope is crucial
- Meaningful social roles engender recovery
- Peer support and recovery role models are of primary importance
- People need knowledge and skills (e.g., supported employment, wellness self management, education)
- An emphasis on holistic wellness and positive lifestyle is healing (emotional, physical, social, cultural, spiritual)
- Provide opportunities for social integration
- Building community supports in integrated neighborhoods
- Services assist participants with community integration activities - orientation to building
- Mapping of their neighborhood and community
In a nutshell the basic idea is to first provide housing and then combine that housing with supportive treatment services in the areas of mental and physical health, substance abuse, education, and employment. Housing is provided in apartments scattered throughout a community. This "scattered site" model fosters a sense of home and self-determination, and it helps speed the reintegration of the clients into the community. The model has succeeded when services walk away and the person stays home.
The Pathways model has evidence based results on being successful in addressing chronic homelessness. Since its founding, Pathways has housed more than 600 people in New York alone, and the program maintains an 85 % retention rate even amongst those individuals not considered "housing ready" by other programs. (Tsemberis 2010.)
Get acquainted with the Pathways’ Housing First model here.