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Everyone Is Housing Ready: The Housing First Philosophy

Taking care of ourselves is so much more complicated when we don’t have stable housing. We all need a home to be safe, and to be healthy, and to thrive.” – Andrew Spiers, Housing First University

No matter who we are or where we are from, home is essential. A home roots us in a community. Take a moment to reflect on your home  –  it is the foundation upon which you build your entire life.

For those unhoused, every day without a home accelerates destabilization to education, childcare, work, relationships, and health, leading to costly, traumatic, and preventable crises. This is why direct-care organizations in Massachusetts consistently say that affordable housing is the resource their clients need most. Regrettably for some, housing is the resource they are least able to access.

Last month, Representative Jim Hawkins and Representative Joan Meschino held the initial meeting of the House Caucus to End and Prevent Homelessness, to provide opportunities for legislators to meet regularly to learn about homelessness, its root causes and solutions. United Way is proud to serve as a facilitator and thought partner for the bipartisan caucus, which will provide legislators with the information, resources, and insight they need to create a continuum of housing resources throughout the state that contributes to the holistic wellbeing of every individual, family, and community.

At the February 21 meeting, Andrew Spiers, Director of Training & Technical Assistance for Housing First University introduced legislators to the Housing First model at the center of President Biden’s All-In Plan, a goal to reduce homelessness by 25 percent by 2025. He was joined by the Massachusetts Alliance for Supportive Housing and Citizens Housing and Planning Association who highlighted opportunities and barriers to implementing Housing First in Massachusetts.

Housing First is an evidence-based model that provides unhoused people with stable housing without qualification, enabling them to sustainably engage with resources that support healing and thriving, such as holistic healthcare and educational and employment services.

In the video below, Spiers provides a deeper understanding of what makes the Housing First model successful and how to faithfully implement it to improve outcomes related to emotional wellbeing, substance dependence, healthcare access, and other life factors that impact housing stability.

The Housing First approach has amassed 30 years of evidence, including the Pay for Success initiative in Massachusetts that successfully placed 1,055 chronically homeless individuals in permanent supportive housing. Through Pay for Success, 85% of individuals were successfully housed after a year, with a demonstrated decrease in acute and emergency healthcare care use.

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Housing First Reports

Tools from Housing First University

Tools from Corporation for Supportive Housing