National League of Cities Releases Brief on Housing First

The National League of Cities (NLC) released a brief, “An Overview of the Housing First Approach for City Leaders.” The brief provides an overview of Housing First, examines the evidence supporting the approach, and spotlights the ways communities have used Housing First to address homelessness effectively, equitably, and compassionately. In addition to the Housing First brief, NLC released a tool to help local leaders identify federal funding sources that are available to local governments for addressing homelessness.

The brief highlights the core components of the Housing First approach, including the model’s emphasis on providing stable housing quickly and without prerequisites, consumer choice and self-determination, voluntary supportive services, individualized and client-driven supports, and social and community integration. In the resource, NLC emphasizes that Housing First does not mean “housing only.” By combining an open-door approach to permanent housing with comprehensive wraparound services, communities have been able to help individuals obtain and maintain stable housing and improve their overall health.

NLC’s resource examines the evidence supporting Housing First, highlighting research showing that Housing First programs significantly improve housing stability, reduce homelessness, and have significant positive impacts on health and wellbeing. Housing First can be particularly effective for helping individuals experiencing chronic or unsheltered homelessness; people with mental health or substance use challenges; individuals with prior justice system involvement; Black and Indigenous people and other People of Color; LGBTQIA+ individuals, including youth; individuals with pets; and members of families wishing to be housed together. The brief spotlights how communities – including Rockford, Illinois and Denver, Colorado – have used Housing First to address chronic and veteran homelessness.

The brief outlines recommendations for cities, towns, and villages seeking to comprehensively address homelessness using a Housing First approach and highlights resources to help communities implement each recommendation. NLC encourages communities to evaluate their current approaches to addressing homelessness and create an action plan for adopting Housing First; coordinate closely across local and regional systems and stakeholders; and take an individualized approach that engages clients or individuals experiencing homelessness as decision-makers. Individuals with lived experience should be involved in the planning, design, and implementation of homeless assistance programs. Moreover, NLC recommends that communities prioritize racial equity in local responses and support systems and strive to meet the comprehensive needs of community members by offering high-quality care and integrated supports.

NLC concludes that Housing First is an evidence-based, cost-effective, and equitable approach for cities seeking to reshape their strategies for reducing homelessness and achieving long-term improvements for their residents. By adopting a Housing First approach, cities can meaningfully reduce the experience of homelessness and ensure that all residents have a safe place to call home.

Read NLC’s brief, “An Overview of the Housing First Approach for City Leaders,” at:

Access the “Federal Funding Sources for Addressing Homelessness Tool” at:

Learn more about Housing First at: