08 Apr Message From The ED: April 2017
Housing First – A cultural shift
The last week in March, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop offered by All Home of King County about best practices for emergency shelters. The focus of the workshop was Housing First, a philosophy and approach that prioritizes providing housing to people experiencing homelessness. In other words, housing first means everyone is housing ready no matter what – even if they have a severe substance abuse problem, are unemployed, or refuse to participate in program services.
Housing First does not require one to address their problems including behavioral health problems or graduate through a series of services programs before they can access housing. This approach views housing as the foundation for life improvement and gives access to housing without prerequisites or conditions beyond those of a typical renter. After all, did anyone give you a test to see if you were housing ready? We all understand that people need basic necessities like food and a place to live, but they also need these before they can attend to anything less critical such as employment, education, or addressing substance abuse. There continues to be a growing evidence base that Housing First is an effective solution to homelessness as the research shows the majority of people remain stably housed a year after receiving housing, and most have participated in optional supportive services resulting in greater housing stability.
While The Sophia Way is housing-focused, there is room for growth as we transition into becoming more Housing First. I look forward to sharing updates with you over the next few months as we evaluate our own programs through the lens of a Housing First approach.
Angela Murray, Executive Director