Padgett, Henwood, and Tsemberis Co-Author Upcoming Book on Housing First

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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Tiny Houses – Gaining Popularity as Temporary Housing for the Homeless

Tiny houses are one of the latest trends catching the eye of those wanting to downsize, save money, live minimally, and reduce their carbon footprint. They have become popular among people of all ages, and have triggered various business endeavors including hotels, a documentary, and a tv show. They’ve also attracted attention in the field of homeless services, as a way of providing temporary or transitional housing. This video describes these two parallel trends in tiny houses.

Several groups have created tiny housing initiatives targeting individuals experiencing homelessness, many of which emerged from original tent city encampments. For example, Quixote Village in Olympia, WA, Dignity Village in Portland, OR, and Second Wind Cottages in Newfield, NY are tiny house communities intended to provide temporary housing for formerly homeless adults. Most commonly these houses are built and maintained as part of small villages or communities for the formerly homeless, and rules and restrictions are enforced through a combination of self-governing and oversight from an agency of some kind. There are commonly community resources (e.g. laundry facilities), and some partner with social service agencies to provide support services to residents as needed. Residence is typically maintained by paying rent and/or contributing work hours to the community, and by following some set of rules and standards of living.

Initiatives like those linked above have emerged across the country. However, the trend has not received federal endorsement or scholarly attention.  Therefore, efforts are commonly funded through private donations and churches. If you are interested in learning more about the tiny house trend, many projects provide detailed information on their website about how they started and how they operate. For example, Occupy Madison, Inc. provides somewhat detailed information on how they got their program up and running.

Blog Post Author: Amanda Aykanian, Research and Project Lead at the National Center
Special thanks to Joe Hegedus of the
Marin Partnership to End Homelessness for finding some of the resources cited in this blog post.