The Marin County Board of Supervisors has adopted the Housing First approach to homelessness. But what does Housing First mean?

Housing First is the idea that the solution to homelessness is a home.

While many factors affect a person’s ability to remain stably housed—employment, physical health, substance use—these factors are all more effectively addressed when a person is housed. But traditionally, homeless programs have worked the opposite way: people had to prove they were “ready” for housing by addressing these factors before they were housed.

Housing First makes sense: for example, how can you apply for a job without a shower, clean clothes, and a good night’s sleep? But twenty years of evidence also supports Housing First.

Projects that operate on the Housing First model house people more quickly than other models, and those people are more likely to remain stably housed. Housing First programs also cost less money than not housing people, due to the cost of emergency services such as jails, hospitals, and shelters.

Marin County has been working with our partner organizations to ensure they have the resources and support they need to implement Housing First programs.