Quick Overview about Housing First!
Housing First is an approach to ending homelessness that centers on providing people experiencing chronically and episodically homeless conditions with housing as quickly as possible – and then providing needed services. This approach has the benefit of being consistent with what most people experiencing homelessness want and seek help to achieve.
Housing First programs share critical elements:
- A focus on helping individuals and families access and sustain permanent rental housing as quickly as possible without time limits;
- A variety of services delivered to promote housing stability and individual well-being on an as-needed basis; and
- A standard lease agreement to housing – as opposed to mandated therapy or services compliance.
While all Housing First programs share these critical elements, program models vary significantly depending upon the population served. For people who have experienced chronic homelessness, there is an expectation that intensive (and often specialized) services will be needed for longer duration.
About Housing First in Brandon.
Many community organizations in Brandon have a long history of service commitment and dedication to supporting homeless and vulnerable people. Since 1999, Brandon has also been a Designated Community within the Federal Government framework for ending homelessness, currently known as the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). The HPS provides direct federal funding to communities across Canada to support their efforts in addressing local needs and specific homelessness priorities.
Brandon's Community Advisory Board (CAB), and the HPS strategies, are committed to longer-term solutions to end homelessness in addition to necessary emergency responses. Towards that end, as part of a 5 year strategic plan, the CAB commissioned a Housing First Readiness project that began in late 2014.
The HF Readiness plan, facilitated by Mark Anderson, worked jointly with community organizations to design a Housing First strategy for local implementation. Through a proposal submission process the Southwest Manitoba Metis Federation, through a department headed by Kris Desjarlais, was selected in 2015 to implement the HF Strategy.
If there is someone you see who is living on the street that you believe is chronically homeless and would like for them to be visited by a street outreach team, you can send in a referral here.
Or, if you know someone living on the street, in a shelter, who is precariously housed or couch-surfing with friends and would like to be assessed for potential resources, please encourage them to visit any of the groups listed as a Coordinated Access site.
There are two main principles (although there are many more) that help understand our efforts for chronic homelessness:
- Housing is a basic human right, not a reward for clinical success.
- Once the chaos of homelessness is eliminated from a person's life, clinical and social stabilization occur faster and are more enduring.
Additionally, a study under the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2014, found that spending $10 on Housing First for the chronic homeless saved $21.72 in health care other costs.
More importantly, it is also about creating a community environment that is accepting and understanding so that when people take steps to move forward from their circumstances they are encouraged to do so. It is about creating a community where people feel they can contribute and where healthy relationships can be fostered.