Homelessness, Housing First, Continuum of Care, chronic homelessness


This paper briefly reviews studies comparing the effectiveness of various Housing First programs to Continuum of Care programs for outcomes related to housing retention, substance use, and mental health. A literature search was completed entering the search term "Housing First" in electronic databases (PsycINFO, JSTOR, and Web of Science) to find potential studies. Of the 67 items produced by the literature search, after screening for outcome studies of Housing First programs that evaluate housing retention, substance use, and/or mental health in comparison to other programs or treatment as usual, 5 final studies were selected for inclusion in the review. Of the five studies selected, all had recruited samples of either chronically homeless individuals or homeless individuals with a mental health diagnosis, and all reported results favored Housing First programs over Continuum of Care programs for housing retention. Substance use and mental health outcomes generally stayed constant regardless of program type. While Housing First does appear to show strong promise, the methodological flaws in the studies revewied, including strong research affiliation with the Housing First agencies being evaluated, calls for more rigorous studies to be completed by more objective investigators.

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