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'Housing First' as a means of addressing multiple needs and homelessness

Atherton I & Nicholls CM (2008) 'Housing First' as a means of addressing multiple needs and homelessness, European Journal of Homelessness, 2, pp. 289-303.

This paper considers the effectiveness of Housing First and its applicability to the European context. Housing First approaches explicitly incorporate secure tenures as an intrinsic part of support packages for homeless people who have mental health and substance misuse problems. We contend that the evidence from the growing body of research in North America makes a compelling argument for the explicit incorporation of housing at an early stage as an effective means of addressing homelessness. The North American studies suggest that even those who might be considered most difficult to house can, with help, successfully maintain their own tenancies. Evidence suggests no deleterious effects on mental health or increased drug misuse and indeed, possibly some benefits. Economic analysis also demonstrates advantages, the cost of providing support to people in Housing First programmes being considerably less than if they were to remain homeless. The introduction of a Housing First approach, however, is by no means a simple philosophy that can be applied everywhere. Rather, local contexts will require some tailoring to meet local needs. Research is therefore needed to highlight obstacles to implementation and means by which these can be overcome. Furthermore, housing on its own is not a solution. Rather, having a secure tenure has to be seen as a part of an integrated support package.

homelessness; Housing First; drug misuse; independent tenancy; support services

AuthorsAtherton Iain, Nicholls Carol McNaughton
Publication date12/2008
PublisherEuropean Observatory on Homelessness
ISSN 2030-2762

European Journal of Homelessness: Volume 2

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