What we do and why we do it...
Housing Works' Home First is a unique program serving the greater Los Angeles area through the work of the Mobile Integrated Service Team (MIST). Since 2007, Home First has provided outreach and engagement to chronically homeless, mentally ill persons, assisting them with obtaining housing and assisting individuals and families who struggle with mental illness in housing retention/eviction prevention. The program is based on a well documented, successful housing first approach using harm reduction strategies – “whatever it takes for as long as it takes!” Under the seasoned and unparalleled leadership of Mollie Lowery (Home First Program Director and previously Founder and Director of LAMP Community). We have modeled a program that assists people in obtaining and sustaining housing – a home.
Program components include:
- Outreach and engagement of homeless persons
- identification of affordable housing units
- Assistance in obtaining tenancy approval
- Provision of comprehensive support services
- Provision of voluntary opportunities that will build a sense of community for participants.
Housing First is an approach to ending homelessness that centers on providing homeless people with housing quickly and then providing services as needed. Housing First does not require persons to “earn” their housing, or demand sobriety or health/mental health treatment as a condition for access to housing. Housing First programs share critical elements:
- There is a focus on helping individuals and families access and sustain permanent rental housing as quickly as possible
- A variety of services are delivered primarily following housing placement to promote housing stability and individual well-being •
- The services are time-limited or long-term depending upon individual need
- Housing is not contingent on compliance with services. Instead, participants must comply with a standard lease agreement and are provided with the services and supports necessary to help them do so successfully.
Supportive Housing: Supportive housing is a successful, cost-effective combination of affordable housing with services that helps people live more stable, productive lives. Supportive housing works well for people who face the most complex challenges — individuals and families who are not only homeless, but who also have very low incomes and serious, persistent issues that may include substance use, mental illness, and HIV/AIDS (www.csh.org).
Harm Reduction: Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies that reduce negative consequences of drug use, incorporating a spectrum of strategies from safer use, to managed use to abstinence. Harm reduction strategies meet drug users "where they're at," addressing conditions of use along with the use itself (www.harmreduction.org)