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The Way Forward-Discussion of the proposed approach

Why Housing First?

Most Ten Year Plans incorporate the key elements outlined by the National Alliance to End Homelessness which, generally, include outcomes, prevention, re-housing and infrastructure building, all vital components of a Housing First approach and reflected in Boulder’s plan.  As early as 2003, The Federal Interagency Council on Homelessness challenged communities to integrate these guidelines into Ten Year Plans.  This is partly due the growing number of studies that demonstrates its effectiveness in terms of cost savings and improved outcomes.  The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports that a Housing First approach significantly reduces the public costs to institutions traditionally utilized by the homeless population, including shelters, hospital emergency rooms and outpatient health care facilities. Even in Supportive Housing Communities where on-site services such as mental health, case management and vocational services are offered, the cost reductions documented for various public institutions were near equal to the cost of supportive housing.  Homeless, law enforcement and judicial services were not included in cost reduction calculations; adding these institutions to the estimation could show an even greater increase in cost savings.

A host of studies demonstrate the model’s effectiveness.   Evidence includes:

  • Increased provider capacity (as measured by the number of families served) and decreased amount of time that families spend homeless
  • Improvements in physical and mental health, growth toward self-sufficiency, reduction in arrests and increased income, including employment income
  • Increased placement and retention for homeless individuals in permanent housing
  • Significant declines in costs to traditionally utilized institutions as supportive permanent housing placements increased, particularly for chronically homeless individuals,  This is critical as studies estimate that while the chronically homeless comprise less than half of the homeless population, they  consume the majority of public resources.

Finally, adopting a Housing First approach positions the County to better compete for federal resources that are provided to support homelessness efforts.   For example:

  • The Federal Interagency Council on Homelessness is encouraging the incorporation of Housing First into Ten Year Plans.
  • The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing (HPRP) funding which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has provided new funding and entitlement for jurisdictions to specifically provide financial assistance and services aimed at both prevention and re-housing and stabilization was based on the Housing First model .
  • The Homeless Emergency and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act creates more flexibility in HUD’s funding for homelessness programs and allocates a portion specifically for re-housing and prevention.
For all of the above reasons, the combined Leadership Team and Advisory Committee adopted Housing First as the overarching framework for the Boulder County 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness (2006).

The National Alliance to End Homelessness (2009).

The National Alliance to End Homelessness (2009).

The National Alliance to End Homelessness (2009). Fact sheet: Chronic Homelessness

Kertesz, S.G., & Weiner, S.J. (2009). Housing the chronically homeless: High hopes, complex realities. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, 301(17), 1822-1824.

Pearson, C., Montgomery, A.E., & Locke, G. (2009). Housing stability among homeless individuals with serious mental illness participating in Housing First programs. Journal of Community Psychology, 37(3), 404-417. Larimer, M.E., Malone, D.K., Garner, M.D., Atkins, D.C., Burlingham, B., Lonczak, H.S., Tanzer, K., Ginzler, J., Clifasefi, S.L., Hobson, W.G., & Marlatt, G.A. (2009). Health care a public service use and costs before and after provision of housing for chronically homeless persons with severe alcohol problems. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, 301(13), 1349-1357.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness (2006). A new vision: What is in community plans to end homelessness? Research Reports on Homelessness in America.

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (2008). The 10-year planning process to end chronic homelessness in your community. Retrieved March 3, 2010 from http://www.usich.gov/slocal/plans/toolkit.pdf

The National Alliance to End Homelessness (2009). Organizational change: Adopting a Housing First approach.

Values Underlying the Plan

The Plan's Implementation Model:Housing First