Housing First is an approach that prioritizes housing homeless individuals prior to beginning other types of intervention strategies. In the past, homeless people were expected to get clean and sober, find a job, or commit to treatment before receiving help to find a home. Studies have shown, however, that most people need housing before they can work on other personal issues. In most cases, a home provides the stability for people to find and keep a job more easily, stay sober, take better care of themselves and pursue other personal goals.
The Housing First approach gives people a safe, stable place to live, along with the services and support they need. This approach is especially successful for people experiencing chronic homelessness who have higher service needs who may not have been able to maintain housing in the past. Housing First results in long-term housing stability and improved physical and behavioral health. This approach also reduces the use of crisis services such as emergency rooms, hospitals and jails.
The County of Santa Clara and partner organizations fully adopted the Housing First approach in 2010. Commitment to this approach was affirmed during the 2015-2020 Community Plan to End Homelessness development process.