Is Housing First the Answer?

In Homes Now Holiday Cookie Decorating Party

In Homes Now is the first supportive housing project specifically designed for homeless people who are active users of drugs and/or alcohol. This year we break ground on 56 new apartments to expand this pioneering client-centered approach.

Called “Housing First,” our model program launched in 2003 at a time when there were no such housing options for homeless individuals with active substance use issues, who did not also have a serious mental illness or HIV/AIDS. Our housing first model works - 80% of our residents have successfully remained in housing for 3 years and 95% have a stable income.

This spring we will break ground on a new residence with 57 studio apartments on Villa Avenue in the Bronx, expanding the program to reach even more men and women who are shut out of traditional housing options. 

We will also expand out scattered-site apartment program to include 10 family units for the first time. This effort will support families where the head of the household is graduating from recovery (substance abuse). This innovative adaption of the program will include partnerships with scores of agencies in the community that are currently helping children and parents stay healthy and strong.

To learn more about Housing First and our success with the model, you can click here to download a report from CASA, the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

Here is an excerpt:

Yet despite growing national attention and its federal endorsement, Housing First models continued to represent a small subset of New York City’s supportive housing. The Housing First models that did exist were limited to individuals with serious mental illness (e.g. Pathways to Housing) or persons living with HIV/AIDS (e.g. Housing Works or Bailey House), and the Housing First model remained out of reach for the sizeable number of homeless individuals with addiction issues who had neither a serious mental illness nor HIV/AIDS.

It was not until 2003 that New York City would obtain its first Housing First supportive housing program for homeless individuals with active substance use issues, who did not have a serious mental illness or HIV/AIDS. In that year, Project Renewal, a provider of comprehensive services for homeless individuals, received a grant through the federal Collaborative Initiative to End Chronic Homelessness demonstration program, and used it to create 60 units of scattered-site supportive housing for individuals identified as chronically homeless who had active addiction issues. This program, In Homes Now, was New York City’s first Housing First supportive housing project specifically targeted at homeless people who were active users of drugs and/or alcohol.

The program was later incorporated into and expanded through the NY/NY III’s supportive housing for Population E.

HOPE Housing First Impl Focus p16