‘Housing First’ is an approach to ending homelessness that centers on quickly providing homeless people with housing and then providing additional services as needed.
It is an approach first popularized by Sam Tsemberis and Pathways to Housing in New York in the 1990s (Padgett, 2007: 1928), though there were Housing First-like programs emerging elsewhere, including Canada (HouseLink in Toronto) prior to this time.
The basic underlying principle of Housing First is that people are better able to move forward with their lives if they are first housed. This is as true for homeless people and those with mental health and addictions issues as it is for anyone.
According to Pathways to Housing, “The Housing First model is simple: 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.”