About Housing First

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.

Housing First has been shown to: increase housing stability; improve quality of life, and improve health and addiction outcomes; reduce involvement with police and the justice system; reduce costs associated with justice system and health expenditures; and reduce hospitalization and emergency visits.
Housing First has been recognized as an important policy towards ending homelessness by both the Canadian and the United States federal governments.
Housing First has been implemented in both Canada and the United States, in addition to several European countries. Housing First can be adapted to many local contexts, including rural jurisdictions and areas with low vacancy rates.

About Housing First in Brandon.


Brandon Housing First has conducted over 300 VI-SPDAT Assessments, and assisted over 100 individuals! Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home, yet every day, vulnerable Canadians are at risk of or experience homelessness.

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, previously known as the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). On April 1, 2019, Reaching Home replaced the Homelessness Partnering Strategy. Reaching Home supports communities' efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness in Canada and supports the goals of the National Housing Strategy, including a 50% reduction in chronic homelessness nationally by 2027–2028 by providing 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 Reaching Home 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.


1I know someone who needs help. What should I do?

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.

2Why help the homeless with housing?

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.

3How can I help?
Visit our Get Involved page for more information.
4What is chronic homelessness?
A person is considered chronically homeless if he/she has experienced continuous homelessness or has had multiple episodes of homelessness over the last three years. A family can be considered chronically homeless if the above conditions apply to the head of household.
5Is it really possible to “end” chronic homelessness?
We absolutely believe it is possible to end chronic homelessness. We know the solution. Throughout Canada, as communities have invested in permanent supportive housing, chronic homelessness has decreased.
6 If we end chronic homelessness, won’t more people who are homeless want to move to Brandon?
This is a common concern in cities across the country, but the data does not back up this concern. Given the disabling conditions that accompany chronic homeless, this population is not a particularly transient population.
7Where will the housing needed to end chronic homelessness be located?
Most of the housing created through this effort will be scattered throughout the community, by renting with existing housing units.

Contact us for additional information!