Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Will Housing First Work in Dallas? It Already Does!

The idea of Housing First is simple: A person experiencing homelessness is housed with two conditions only: That they abide by their lease, and meet periodically with their case worker. Wrap around services and supports are made available to them. They are encouraged, to avail themselves of these services and supports, but the choice to do so or not do so, is entirely up to them.

We talk about Housing First quite a bit, because it really matters. As we have mentioned, in general, across the country and the world, Housing First has become the consensus of researchers and practitioners in the field, and the official policy of not only our Federal Government, but other governments too.

While some may disagree with Housing First philosophically, it is hard to deny its success. In general, it is successful for around 85% of clients. This means, that 85% of clients in a Housing First program remain housed, in a permanent housing setting. Here is a question we have received recently, though, “Will Housing First Work in Dallas?”
Housing First, the recently published book by the
“father” of the movement, Dr. Sam Tsemberis
Well, the answer might just surprise you. We recently analyzed the aggregate Annual Performance Report on 25 Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Rehousing programs, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through our Continuum of Care. The total number of clients in these Housing First programs was 1,629, during the 12 months of July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016. About 2/3 had a history of mental disability, about 2/5 had a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse, and more than half had two or three concurrent disabling or other health conditions. Here is what we found:

1,293 – Remained housed in their program

271 – Exited their program for another permanent housing setting

43 – Exited their program to temporary housing settings or homelessness

22 – Died

Total number that remained housed in a permanent setting – 1293+271= 1,564

Percentage of those who remained housed in a permanent setting – 1,564/1,629=96%

So, what is the answer to the question, “Will Housing First Work in Dallas?” It already does. Dallas has a 96% success rate in housing programs that utilize a Housing First approach. QED.

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