What is Housing First?

An Introduction to HOUSING FIRST

What is Housing First?

​​In many traditional homeless services, people are first expected to demonstrate that they are ‘housing ready’ – meaning that they have to prove they are able to live independently or with only low levels of support – before they can access stable housing.

In Housing First, housing is the starting point rather than an end goal, supported by policies and practices that are designed to keep people in existing ordinary housing if they are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. 

As the name suggests, a Housing First service provides housing as soon as possible, without attaching conditions such as a requirement to abstain from drugs and alcohol. This means that people in Housing First programmes have a high degree of control over the support and treatment they receive, including whether or not to use different support services.


Core principles of Housing First

Housing is a human right

Choice and control for service users

Separation of housing and treatment

Recovery orientation

Harm reduction

Active engagement without coercion

Person-centred planning

Flexible support for as long as is required

Commitment to the core principles of Housing First

All partners who join the Hub are asked to confirm their commitment to the core principles of Housing First as described in the Housing First Europe Guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

We already have a number of social services for homeless people, why do we need Housing First?

Is Housing First only for people with complex needs?

What is ‘Housing First for Youth’?

What are complex needs?

Why separate housing from treatment?

Why is stable housing so important?

What happens if the service user accepts housing but refuses treatment?

Are there any expectations of Housing First tenants?

Where does housing for Housing First come from?

Who covers the cost?

We don’t have enough housing available – how can this work in my community?

Housing First and Covid-19

Learn more

  • RESEARCH: Networking and housing advocacy in the homelessness sector: a path towards social sustainability? A study of the Housing First Europe Hub

    ABSTRACT “This paper investigates the potential of pro-Housing First advocacy conducted by international and inter-organisational homelessness coalitions to realise social sustainability ambitions in the homelessness sector. In particular, it…

    Check it out here
    Category: | Housing FirstResearch
  • Housing First Research Digest: Volume 7

    “Housing First, Meaningful Activity, and Well-being” When individuals exit homelessness through Housing First (HF) programmes, individualised wraparound services are put into place to support them to maintain their tenancies…

    Check it out here
    Category: | Research
  • EVALUATION: Findings from the 50 LIVES 50 HOMES Program – Zero Project, Perth, Australia

    The 50 Lives 50 Homes program (50 Lives), which commenced in late-2015 and was the first Housing First program in Western Australia (WA). It was a collaborative program that…

    Check it out here