A new book about Housing First by Professor Deborah Padgett at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work, co-authored with Benjamin Henwood (USC-Social Work) and Sam Tsemberis (Pathways to Housing, Inc.), will be released this fall.

Cover_HousingFirstHousing First: Ending Homelessness, Transforming Systems, and Changing Lives (Oxford University Press) is the first book to tell the story of this groundbreaking approach. In this book, Housing First (HF) is described as an unusual combination of evidence-based practice, consumer choice, and the right to housing. Authors Padgett, Henwood, and Tsemberis (the founder of Pathways to Housing) trace the history of homelessness in the United States and report on the rise of a “homeless industry” of shelters and transitional housing programs after the 1980s. The HF model challenged the standard ‘staircase’ or linear continuum by not requiring compliance with treatment, sobriety, and ‘housing readiness’ before gaining access to one’s own apartment.

Beginning with its origins in New York City in 1992 with the formation of Pathways to Housing, Inc., the HF approach has quickly spread to cities around the United States, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe. Housing First has been unprecedented in its influence on housing policies in the U.S. and abroad and is credited with ending homelessness for veterans in several U.S. cities as well as ending chronic homelessness in the state of Utah. After a five-city experimental trial, HF is now the national policy in Canada. While it has only begun to be applied to families and young adults, HF principles of immediate access to housing, support services, and harm reduction hold promise for engagement and stabilization.

The book summarizes what is known about Housing First, including qualitative findings from the New York Recovery Study led by Padgett and Henwood (funded by the National Institute of Mental Health). In addition to analyzing HF as a source of systems and organizational change, the book features first-person accounts of life after obtaining housing and services. The success of HF has shown that providing immediate access to an apartment and support services to homeless persons with ‘dual diagnoses’ is not only humane but effective.

Blog Post Author: Deborah Padgett, Professor at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work

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