Solutions to End Homelessness – The Housing First Model
Housing First is a research-based solution to ending homelessness that prioritizes providing housing to individuals experiencing homelessness as quickly as possible without preconditions.
This approach is based on the belief that people require their food, shelter, and safety needs to be met first in order to begin the path to personal stability.
Therefore, a housing program that operates with a Housing First model, like Downtown Women’s Center, would not require an individual to be employed, enrolled in substance use counseling, or to be receiving any kind of supportive services to be eligible for housing.
California Is a Housing First State
Housing First is widely considered a best practice in ending homelessness, and the movement continues to gain traction nationwide. Growing evidence shows that individuals housed through a Housing First model are more likely to remain housed permanently. In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown established California as a “Housing First” state; this law requires state agencies that provide housing or homelessness services to incorporate components of Housing First into their services provision, and establishes a Homeless Coordination and Financing Council to ensure organizations are adopting Housing First guidelines and regulations.
Women Experiencing Homelessness and Housing First
At Downtown Women’s Center, our first priority is to provide women with safe, permanent housing, which we believe is a human right. We use a Housing First model to house women through our Permanent Supportive Housing Program in downtown LA and Community-Based Housing Program throughout LA County.
Once housed, a DWC resident has access to the individualized support she needs to work toward her goals and reach personal stability, including case management, physical and mental health care, job readiness, and community-building activities. The vulnerabilities of women experiencing homelessness are unique: they have women-specific healthcare and job-training needs, and they are far more likely to have survived violence than their male counterparts.
Prioritizing housing and client choice in supportive services—two central components of Housing First—helps us to ensure we are providing women with the unique services they need to remain housed in an effective, trauma-informed way.