Housing First is an approach to quickly and successfully connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions and barriers to entry, such as sobriety, treatment or service participation requirements. Supportive services are offered to maximize housing stability and prevent returns to homelessness as opposed to addressing predetermined treatment goals prior to permanent housing entry.
Admission: The person or family seeking assistance must meet The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition of experiencing homelessness:
1. Living in a place not meant for human habitation.
2. Living in an emergency Shelter or in emergency housing paid for by the Department of Social Services
3. Living in an institution for less than 91 days having been homeless the night prior to entering that environment.
According to the HUD definition there is no gray area. Someone who does not have a permanent place to stay but is bouncing around from family or friends on a nightly basis is not meeting the HUD definition of experiencing homelessness. If someone is going to be evicted in three days and have no means to secure shelter or nowhere to go after their eviction, they do not meet the HUD definition of experiencing homelessness. The person must be able to provide documentation from the shelter they are staying at, an outreach provider or a budget from their local Department of Social Services.
In addition to experiencing homelessness, clients currently must meet at least one of the following criteria:
1. Have a physical disability
2. Be diagnosed with a severe and persistent Mental Illness
3. Be diagnosed with a Developmental Disability
4. Be suffering from HIV/AIDS
5. Be diagnosed with a Substance Abuse Disorder
These too must be documented in order meet the criteria.
Each potential client is presented to the Housing First committee, which meets monthly on the third Wednesday. The committee assesses the potential client for the above criteria and gives a preliminary yes to continue along with application process.
Once the person or family is accepted into the program, they must find an apartment in the community that meets HUD inspection criteria. Housing First can assist with this task, but Housing First does not maintain its own apartments like other TSA programs. The Landlord must agree to a one-year lease, and to receive payment from both the program and the client directly. The client pays a portion of the rent, based on their income, directly to the Landlord and Housing First pays the remainder.How to access this service