Venice Community Housing adopted the Housing First model 10+ years ago. This evidence-based framework recognizes that secure housing is a necessary first step towards permanently ending an individual’s experience with homelessness. Because of this, a core principle of Housing First is that housing should not be conditional on any readiness requirements. Countless studies have illustrated that this low-barrier approach helps people obtain and retain their housing at higher rates, saves public funds, and improves participants’ quality of life and community functioning outcomes (NLIHC). Any personal goals and obstacles can be addressed more effectively after a person is housed.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “…withholding housing help until people ‘get better’ can result in people spending years on the streets as their health declines. People with severe mental illnesses cycle frequently between jails, hospitals, shelters and streets without ever achieving a stable home. Those that have seen this heartbreaking cycle, unfortunately still too common given inadequate resources, understand this fundamental truth: withholding housing assistance doesn’t help people, it hurts them.” While Housing First begins with immediate access to housing, it extends far beyond this. Residents have access to comprehensive and personalized services, including case management, health care referrals, professional development trainings, and beyond. VCH also places a strong focus on building community and interpersonal relationships—residents are encouraged to join tenant meetings and on-site groups that range from cooking and composting classes to conflict resolution workshops.
Although all of these supports are readily available, Housing First also prioritizes individual autonomy and choice in regards to housing and supportive services. Housing is a human right, and nobody should have to participate in services or programming in order to receive or retain it. VCH’s team works to meet people’s basic need for shelter and offer tailored supportive services that appeal to residents and meet their unique needs.