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

CP1 Housing is a Human Right

Choice and control for service users

CP2 Choice and Control for Service Users

Separation of housing and treatment

 CP3 Separation of Housing and Treatment

Recovery orientation

CP4 Recovery Orientation

Harm reduction

CP5 Harm Reduction

Active engagement without coercion

CP6 Active Engagement without Coercion

Person-centred planning

CP7 Person-centred Planning

Flexible support for as long as is required

CP8 Flexible Support for as Long as 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

  • EVALUATION: Housing First Scotland – Pathfinder

    Housing First Scotland’s Pathfinder programme, which ran from April 2019-March 2022, was independently evaluated by I-SPHERE in partnership with ICF this year. Some interesting findings from the evaluation include: Tenancy…

    Check it out here
    Category: | Evaluation
  • Learning from Youth with Lived Experience to Realize Homelessness Prevention in Schools: Learnings from Tio’tiá:ke/Montréal

    While schools can be a powerful site of homelessness prevention, they are also a potential site of harm for many young people, particularly youth with disabilities and mental health…

    Check it out here
  • 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