Housing First is the most discussed method in Europe in terms of combatting homelessness. Within a relatively short period of time the concept has been widely disseminated, but what is the Housing First model, exactly? A lot of questions have been raised in recent years: what components and elements must be included in this model? Who is the target group? Is Housing First a slogan, a philosophy, a programme, a brand – or a policy? Many have looked forward to reading this book.
Homelessness is a widespread social problem, and the struggle is ongoing throughout Europe to combat the problem. Conditions in various countries differ widely, but many actors have realized that a new approach is necessary. In Sweden, for example, an individual perspective dominated for a long time, and homelessness has been mainly analysed and explained with reference to individual factors such as substance abuse and dependence, mental disabilities or other social problems; if these problems disappear then it should also be possible to solve the problem of homelessness. Gradually, however, this explanation has changed. To a large extent, a multifactorial explanatory model has been adopted in its place, where structural factors like the structure of the housing market are of vital importance. Other structural factors are exclusion from the housing market, unemployment and discrimination. One of the fundamental ideas of the Housing First model is to separate treatment from housing. This renders the structural and individual factors visible, and it becomes clear that homelessness is much more than just an individual problem.
The interest in evidence-based practice (EBP) has grown in our part of Europe. The search for effective, well-researched methods is ongoing, and a method that has proven to be efficient in randomized trials is difficult to dismiss; the Pathways
Housing First (PHF) programme is one such method, with well-established efficacy in reducing homelessness for a particular group of individuals.
From “Housing First: The Pathways Model to End Homelessness for People with Mental Illness and Addiction Manual” by Sam Tsemberis.