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The 3 Key Benefits of Housing First


What qualifies someone to deserve a home? Should they be healthy? Mentally stable? Free from addiction? In the past, these were qualities that determined if someone was eligible for subsidized housing, and this exclusionary method left a lot of people without homes.

In recent years, research has shown that a different approach called Housing First is the most effective way to end homelessness. A report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness describes Housing First “as the foundation for life improvement” by doing exactly what is suggested by this straightforward moniker – provide housing first, and then help people address the issues that led to their homelessness. This model is so effective that it is now considered a best practice by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

At MCCH, we believe that housing is a basic human right, not something that is earned. Housing First guides our work to ensure the best possible outcomes for the clients we serve. Practicing Housing First means we provide people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing as quickly as possible – and then help them address the issues that led to their homelessness and provide ongoing support to ensure they never become homeless again.

But why does this practice work? Check out these three key benefits of Housing First:


  1. It provides basic needs. Think of a moment when you were at work or in class and you were hungry. Your stomach rumbles, you start to feel a bit sick, and you can’t focus at all on the task in front of you. This absence of basic needs is one reason that those experiencing homelessness struggle with exiting their situation on their own. Our clients have told us that when they are living outside, their waking hours are exclusively devoted to finding food, shelter, and basic hygiene. They are literally unable to focus on anything else, so when we are able to provide them with a home of their own and supportive services, they can focus on their health and career goals.

  2. There are few preconditions. For many programs, they require their clients to be drug-free or “clean” for a certain amount of time before they can move into housing. We recognize that for many, experiencing homelessness is a propellant in a client’s substance use disorder. Refusing to house these vulnerable people isn’t going to help them. Housing First provides long-term rental assistance and supportive services so that our clients can get the treatment they need.

  3. People are less likely to experience homelessness again. People who are helped using a Housing First model find housing faster and are more likely to remain stably housed. At MCCH, 98% of the families we serve remain stably housed. Housing First doesn’t just move people into homes, it helps them stay there for the rest of their lives. And if that’s not enough to sway your opinion, the Housing First approach is financially beneficial to taxpayers, so we all benefit from organizations who follow this practice.

Find your local homeless service  organization and see if they use the Housing First model. If they don’t, then advocate for this change by sharing this Housing First checklist via email or social media. When someone has all the facts about Housing First, it’s hard to deny it as one of the key solutions in ending homelessness!

3 Responses

  1. Arthur Mantzouris
    | Reply

    Hi, My name is Arthur Mantzouris and I’m trying to help a guy I know, who is homeless and he has given me the permission to help u get back on his feet. I’m really not knowing where to start to help him and so I have Googled ” Are there any programs that help homeless people in montgomery county with Jobs or housing and other things?” So that is one of the websites I have visited to find help for Him, so if anyone from this site, cam point me in the right direction, as to other resources, that will be of big benefit, please, send me anything you can that will help me to help him….

  2. otis gabriel
    | Reply

    I m working with the Converted Heart CME Church that holds its services in the Silver Spring Veterans Plaza building. Several homeless individuals attend our church and we would like to assist them with credible information to help in their challenges. Please share any information you have related to this project. We would like to have an information sharing session on September 30, 2018 for the homeless persons who attend worship services at the Converted Heart CME Church and you information would be very beneficial.

  3. Millie Hue
    | Reply

    It really helped when you said that having a house first will ensure you that you are not going to lose focus since you already have the basic need. I guess this convinced me to buy a house before buying a car. My husband and I have been discussing this for a week now since we have the resources to buy a big purchase this year. It is because of his promotion a month ago. Thanks for the tips!

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