HUD PD&R Hosts Virtual Quarterly Update on Housing First

HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) hosted a virtual PD&R Quarterly Update on Housing First on April 6. The event highlighted data supporting the effectiveness of Housing First and explored how communities across the country are using the model to reduce the prevalence of homelessness.

The event featured a data spotlight segment from PD&R’s Veronica Helms Garrison, who highlighted that the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF), an independent panel of public health and prevention experts appointed by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends Housing First programs. The CPSTF recommendation is based on evidence from a systematic review of 26 studies, which found that Housing First programs decrease homelessness, increase housing stability, and improve quality of life for people experiencing homelessness. The CPSTF also found that the economic benefits exceed the intervention cost for Housing First programs; every dollar invested in Housing First programs results in $1.44 in cost savings.

Jeff Olivet, the executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), provided remarks on the effectiveness of Housing First in ending homelessness. He urged that the country must scale the model up to meet the need and pair it with prevention strategies to stem the inflow into homelessness. He noted that Housing First is designed to end homelessness at the individual level – not to address the structural causes of homelessness, including the severe shortage of affordable housing, ongoing effects of systemic racism, and a lack of access to mental health care and drug and alcohol treatment. “Blaming Housing First for the ongoing homelessness crisis is like blaming cancer treatments for cancer. It doesn’t cure every person, and we have much more to learn, but we are saving lives on a daily basis,” said Mr. Olivet.

The HUD PD&R event featured two panel discussions examining the successes of Housing First programs in Richmond, Virginia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Houston, Texas; Gulfport, Mississippi; and Seattle, Washington. The first panel – moderated by Norm Suchar, director of HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs – included Kelly King Horne, executive director of Homeward in Richmond, Virginia; Martha Kegel, executive director of UNITY of Greater New Orleans; Ana Rausch, vice president of program operations at the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County; and Mary Simons, executive director and CEO of the Open Doors Homeless Coalition in Mississippi. The second panel was moderated by Margaret Salazar, HUD Regional Administrator for Region 10, and featured David Canavan of Canavan Associates and Marc Dones, CEO of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority.

You can watch the recording at: