The evidence supporting Housing First continues to pile up.
The Community Preventive Services Task Force in the U.S. compared results from studies of Housing First and Treatment First and have concluded that health practitioners should recommend Housing First to patients who are homeless, using drugs and/or alcohol and living with a mental illness.1 Housing First is also effective for people who are homeless and living with HIV/AIDS.
This report is important because it addresses two criticisms that are frequently levelled against Housing First programs:
- Housing First encourages people to use drugs and alcohol. The studies demonstrate that in Housing First programs, alcohol and substance use stays the same or goes down.
- Housing First is a deterrent to seeking employment. Not only are people in Housing First programs willing to work, their housing stability makes it easier for them to find and keep work.
This report will assist health practitioners who have patients who are homeless and using substances or alcohol. The health practitioners can refer (or better yet assist) their patients to enroll in Housing First programs, based on evidence from these studies.
The report also gives health policy advocates and researchers reason to align with people in other disciplines who are advocating a Housing First approach. Perhaps this will help to increase the amount of housing that is so sorely needed for Housing First to work.
Read more at the Community Preventive Services Task Force: Health Equity: Permanent Supportive Housing with Housing First (Housing First Programs)
- The difference between the treatments comes down to the order in which they are provided. Eligibility for housing in Treatment First approaches usually means that an individual has completed treatment and can demonstrate that they are clean and sober. Housing First requires only that a person is willing to leave the street and move to housing.