The Hope Center was awarded the Housing First grant from the Lexington Fayette County Urban County Government which began in January 2015. This program has been proven to combat chronic homelessness and save millions of tax payers’ dollars in other cities across the country including Louisville, Seattle and New York City.
According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, Housing First is an approach that offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and then provides the supportive services and connections to the community-based supports people need to keep their housing and avoid returning to homelessness. Housing provides a foundation from which a person or family can access the services and supports they need to achieve stability, begin the recovery process, and pursue personal goals. While Housing First can be used in both short- and long-term interventions, the approach is closely tied to permanent supportive housing and therefore discussed in this context here. The Housing First approach can be applied to rapid re-housing as well.
The Pathways Housing First model, which was first implemented in New York City and later replicated in several cities around the country, has been rigorously evaluated. Pathways to Housing’s Housing First Program is listed in SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Practices and Programs (NREPP) and a summary of the research evidence is available on-line.
In Seattle, the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) operates a site-based permanent supportive housing program, 1811 Eastlake, using a Housing First approach for men and women with chronic alcohol addiction who are some of the highest utilizers of publicly-funded crisis services. Findings from an evaluation published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2009 (2) included taxpayer savings of more than $4 million over the first year of operation, reflecting significant reductions in hospital emergency room visits, inpatient hospitalizations, and stays in sobering facilities and shelters.
*Italics text from USICH website.
For more details, see: United States Inter-agency Council of Homelessness
Hope Center Housing First Eligibility Criteria
The following eligibility guidelines are used for determining appropriateness for the Housing First Program:
- Age 18 or older
- Ambulatory and not requiring hospital or nursing home care
- Agree to be nonviolent
- Agree not to use or sell drugs or illegal substances on the premises
- Agree to treat other clients, staff and the property with respect
- Agree to obey fire and other safety regulations
All referrals will be screened using the Vulnerability Index & Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT). The VI-SPDAT is a standardized tool utilized by the 100K Homes campaign for assessing vulnerability and risk. Priority is given to applicants based on the score on the screening.
Hope Center Housing First Service Delivery Components
- Emergency services that address the immediate need for shelter or stabilization in current housing
- Housing, Resource, and Support Services Assessment which focuses on housing needs, preferences, and barriers; resource acquisition; and identification of services needed to sustain housing
- Housing placement assistance including housing location and placement; financial assistance with housing costs (e.g., security deposits, first month’s rent, move-in and utilities connection, short- or long-term housing subsidies); advocacy and assistance in addressing housing barriers (e.g., poor credit history or debt, prior eviction, criminal conviction)
- Case management services specifically focused on maintaining permanent housing or the acquisition and sustainment of permanent housing