Housing First

Program basics

  • Provide condition-free, rapid access to permanent housing for individuals experiencing homelessness
  • Additional services include crisis intervention, needs assessments, and case management
  • Participants may be in central location with on-site support or in scattered units throughout a community.
  • There are no time limits to program participation

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)

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Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration


Target population

Individuals experiencing homelessness

Program cost

Estimated $6,314 per participant per year

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

1990s-present

Outcomes and impact

  • Reduced homelessness, increase housing stability, and reduce hospital utilization
  • Demonstrated improvements in housing stability for individuals suffering from mental health problems, homeless youth, veterans, chronically homeless individuals, and survivors of domestic violence
  • May improve outcomes related to mental health, substance abuse, quality of life, and personal safety

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Partnerships between mental health, substance abuse, and social service providers with landlords and property owners are essential for success.
  • Participants should be provided with flexible financial assistance which allows them to meet their individual needs.
  • Community engagement can develop rapport between participants and neighbors, enabling sustained community support.
  • Management, leadership, and direct service staff should meet regularly to assess results and areas for improvement.
  • Incorporate anti-racism and anti-oppression principles to better serve the needs of participants from diverse backgrounds.

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