Housing First Digest: Volume 3

Welcome to the third volume of the Housing First Research Digest!

This volume is organized by Nadyah Abdel Salam (Est Metropole Habitat), member of the Housing First Europe Hub research cluster, and focuses on the Housing First dissemination and appropriation processes as a model for intervention and as a philosophy for ending homelessness.

Housing First is the fruit of exploration and innovation work that has involved many players for more than twenty years. Based on a combination of emerging practices (psychiatric rehabilitation, recovery, empowerment, community-based mobile support services, risk reduction, …) associated with permanent housing, the model circulates in Western countries, spreads new Housing First programs and influences public policies. Far from being fixed, it gives rise to a plurality of appropriations, adjustments, homemade solutions and unexpected developments. The practices it inspires go beyond the model, at the risk of diluting or misleading the principles that underlie it. This selection of articles and studies tackles, from different perspectives, the innovation processes associated with Housing First and its ability to influence and transform systems action and public policies of homelessness, housing, health and solidarity.

Laval Christian & al. Housing First, au-delà du sans-abrisme et de la psychiatrie. Vie sociale, n°3-4/2018. Paris: Erès éditions, 2019.  

With the participation of Roberto BERNAD, Thomas BOSETTI, Coralie BUXANT, Teresa DUARTE, Pascale ESTECAHANDY, Marianne FARKAS, Baptiste GODRIE, Kristen GURDAK, Rock HURTUBISE, Juha KAAKINEN, Christian LAVAL, Jean MANTOVANI, Jean MANTOVANI, Christopher MCALL, José PLUS, Aurélie TNLAND, Sam TSEMBERIS. 

This collective work documents the genesis of the Housing First model in the United States and the experimentation, research and policy implementation work that allows the diffusion of the approach in North America and Europe. The authors were all involved in the implementation or evaluation of pioneering programs directly inspired by the Housing First Pathways model. This book was coordinated by Christian Laval, head of qualitative research on the French program “Un Chez Soi d’Abord“. He introduces the book with a reflection on the globalization of concepts and practices. The articles show the diversity of contexts, implementation processes and appropriations. They also show reciprocal learning and alliances to influence public policy, both at transnational level and in each country. 

Go to the article (French)

Hansen Löfstrand Cecilia & Juhila Kirsi. Housing First as a Moral Tale and a Travelling Idea. In Björn Andesson, Frida Pettersson & Aanette Skåner (eds.) Den motsspänstiga akademikern, festskrift till Ingrid Sahlin. Malmö: Égalité, 2017, p.15-37. 

The authors analyze the story of the Pathways Housing First model as a success story and a moral tale. In their view, the expansion of Housing First is at least as much about the “convincing work” in the moral narrative as the concrete results of the programs and the evidence of their effectiveness. While highlighting the strength of this story, they identify cleavage and simplification effects that can generate skepticism. It can be counterproductive in deployment dynamics on a larger scale, which does not a priori exclude other alternative models. 

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Knutagård Marcus & Arne Kristiansen. « Scaling Up Housing First Pilots – Drivers and Barriers ». Nordic Journal of Social Research 10, no 1, mai 2019, p.123.  

This article discusses Housing First’s ability, as a social innovation, to transform existing institutions, create systemic change, and end homelessness (Padgett et al., 2016). It is based on a research project on Housing First Services in Sweden. It analyzes the institutional changes implied by a Housing First pilot project in the municipality’s social housing system of Helsingborg, the facilitators and the barriers to the scaling up of Housing First in this context.  

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Lo Sardo Sebastien. Sorties de rue. Une ethnographie des pratiques d’intervention Housing First. Forum Bruxelles contre les inégalités, 2017. 

Considering that the field worker is the poor relation of the literature dealing with social innovation, this study reflects field practice. The ethnographic approach is based on a daily observation of the Housing First teams in Brussels for a year and on the co-construction of knowledge. It documents the specificity of these support practices that revisit the link between the institution and the user, the frameworks and their limits, the role of the beneficiary in the helping relationship. Contrary to the logic of activation and conditionality of aid, the study shows that the model works because the institutional framework is flexible and that the field workers adapt to the rhythm and singularities of each person. These support practices and approaches explored by the Housing First teams invite us to rethink the ways of doing social work beyond the sphere of homelessness.  

Go to the article (French)

Thank you for reading!

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