What is Housing First
‘Housing First’ is a recovery-oriented approach to ending homelessness that centers on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing and then providing additional supports and services as needed. It is an approach first popularized by Sam Tsemberis and Pathways to Housing in New York in the 1990s, though there were Housing First-like programs emerging elsewhere, including Canada (HouseLink in Toronto) prior to this time. The basic underlying principle of Housing First is that people are better able to move forward with their lives if they are first housed. This is as true for people experiencing homelessness and those with mental health and addictions issues as it is for anyone. Housing is provided first and then supports are provided including physical and mental health, education, employment, substance abuse and community connections.
5 Key Principles of Housing First
For a quick overview, start here.
For a more detailed overview, check out the links below.
Special thanks to the folks at Rain City Housing for providing these videos!
At Home/Chez Soi
In 2008, the Government of Canada allocated $110 million to the MHCC to undertake a research demonstration project on mental health and homelessness. The result? At Home/Chez Soi, a four-year project in five cities that aimed to provide practical, meaningful support to Canadians experiencing homelessness and mental health problems.
At Home/Chez Soi, demonstrated and evaluated the effectiveness of the "housing first" approach, where people are provided with a place to live and then receive recovery-oriented services and supports that best meet their individual needs. At Home/Chez Soi showed that the housing first approach works in Canada and gives us information about how it works by looking at who it works for, and at what cost.
Read the full report here.
Housing First in Regina
The Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) is a federal government initiative. HPS provides funds to 69 communities across Canada, including Regina, to assist with preventing and reducing homelessness. The program was renewed for five years from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2019 with the expectation that communities will reduce the size of their homelessness population. In April 2014, the YMCA of Regina was contracted as the Community Entity for Regina. The Community Entity governance structure also provides an opportunity for community input into program delivery through a Regina Homelessness Community Advisory Board (RHCAB) made up of community members and government representatives.
In 2016, after an extensive research and application process, HPS and RHCAB selected Phoenix Residential Society as our partner organization to run Regina’s initial Housing First pilot project. In July 2017, after one year in operation, the astonishing results were released to the public, and can be seen below.