Housing First

Housing FirstHousing First is an evidence-based approach to reducing chronic and episodic homelessness whereby people are supported in finding and maintaining housing as a first and foundational step in addressing the factors that have led to homelessness. In recent years, Housing First has emerged as a key response to homelessness in many parts of the world including the United States, Europe and across Canada.

SSICS operates the Housing First program on Salt Spring Island, funded by the Homeless Partnering Strategy federal funding through Employment and Social Development Canada and is the lead agency in the Salt Spring Island Housing First Coalition which includes other local stakeholders in developing and implementing the Salt Spring Island Community Plan to End Homelessness.

Housing First is a recovery-oriented approach to homelessness that involves moving people who experience homelessness into independent and permanent housing as quickly as possible, with no preconditions, and then providing them with additional services and supports as needed.

The underlying principle of Housing First is that people are more successful in moving forward with their lives if they are first housed. Housing is not contingent upon readiness, or on ‘compliance’ (for instance, sobriety). Rather, it is a rights-based intervention rooted in the philosophy that all people deserve housing, and that adequate housing is a precondition for recovery.

The model advocates an approach to  provide housing first, and then combine that housing with supportive treatment services in the areas of mental and physical health, substance abuse, education, and employment.

The approach has been shown to be more effective and more cost-effective for communities combatting homelessness as supported and subsidized housing can cost substantially less than the emergency room, emergency services and other loads on the system of homelessness.