What is Housing First?

Housing First is a community intervention that provides permanent, affordable housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness (US Interagency Council on Homelessness, 2013).

Housing First programs do not require individuals to demonstrate that they are “housing ready” before housing. Instead, these programs place individuals experiencing homelessness into housing quickly, regardless of current substance use, symptoms of mental illness, or employment status.

After providing housing first, the program then provides intensive case management to address any physical & mental health needs.

HF has received acclaim nationwide as a promising intervention that helps individuals with serious mental illness and/or substance use histories gain stability (Padgett, Stanhope, Henwood, & Stefancic, 2011; Pearson, Montgomery, & Locke, 2009; Tsemberis, Gulcur, & Nakae, 2004).

Housing First on O‘ahu

In August 2014, the City & County of Honolulu responded to homelessness on O‘ahu by requesting proposals for programs using the Housing First model. The Institute for Human Services received funding for one year starting in December 2014. After the evaluation showed that the program demonstrated fidelity to the model and maintained high housing retention (Smith & Barile, 2015), the contract was renewed for another year and has continued to receive funding. The program is now in its 5th year and has continued to show good housing retention and improvement in health and wellbeing for many of its participants (Pruitt & Barile, 2019).