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Tuesday, June 13, 2017
UH: Housing First Keeps 89% of Homeless Housed
By News Release @ 1:41 AM :: 6417 Views :: Honolulu County, Hawaii Statistics, Homelessness

Review of Housing First program by University of Hawai‘i shows successful outcomes after two years

News Release from City and County of Honolulu, June 13, 2017

Honolulu – The City and County of Honolulu’s unprecedented Housing First initiative launched by Mayor Kirk Caldwell in 2015 has demonstrated sustained positive outcomes through its second year, according to a new evaluation prepared by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa College of Social Sciences.

The study of the city’s Housing First contract with the Institute for Human Services show an overall housing retention rate of 89 percent. Formerly homeless individuals showed increased general health and significant decreases in alcohol and drug use, arrests, and medical expenses after entering the Housing First program.

“Two years after launching Housing First, we continue to see the program’s effectiveness in transforming lives while reducing emergency expenses,” said Mayor Caldwell. “Housing First is the right thing to do, as well as a smart investment that saves taxpayer funds. Following the success of our initial Housing First contract with IHS, we launched a second Housing First program with U.S. VETS last December. We requested proposals for a third program on June 5 that will supportively house an additional 100 households for a total of 315 households experiencing chronic homelessness between the three contracts.”

The University of Hawai‘i evaluation found:

  • 92 percent of clients reported never or rarely using drugs after one year in Housing First

  • 80 percent of clients reported never or rarely using alcohol after one year in Housing First

  • Clients were 64 percent less likely to visit the emergency room
  • Clients were 74 percent less likely to be admitted to a hospital
  • Clients had a 21 percent improvement in general health
  • Clients were 55 percent less likely to be arrested after one year
  • Clients were 61 percent less likely to be arrested after two years
  • Clients had a 96 percent increase in connections to a community group
  • Clients reported having a 38 percent improvement in hope for the future

“Honolulu’s Housing First Program continues to successfully house individuals with a history of homelessness,” said Dr. Jack Barile of the University of Hawai‘i. “This has been achieved through a concerted effort to respectfully engage and support individuals’ transition into housing. The building of trust, support, and ties to meaningful community groups has led to the sustained success of the program. We ask that all Honolulu’s residents continue to respect and support all members of our community in order to improve the lives of all.”

After two years, Housing First served 214 people in 135 households, including 48 children. The majority of clients were single men and the average age of a client at intake was 45. Only 18 program participants were no longer stably housed after two years, including five people who were incarcerated. As of January 2017, there were 177 people enrolled in program.

“Chronic homelessness can be ended,” said IHS Executive Director Connie Mitchell. “The city's Housing First program is evidence of this. It’s infused hope and transformed lives that were hanging by a thread in many cases. Also heartening is how faith partners and the hospitality industry personalized housing transitions with donated goods and furnishings.”

The Housing First model places people experiencing homelessness directly into permanent housing and provides supportive services necessary to help each individual remain housed. There are low barriers to entry and sobriety is not required in order to obtain housing, but clients must follow house rules in their apartments like any other tenant. Case managers are available 24/7 to help clients and landlords resolve any issues. Households participating in the city’s Housing First program were all experiencing chronic homelessness prior to placement, which means they were experiencing homelessness for a year or more and have a disability.

-END-

RELATED: Mental Health: Can Reform Solve Hawaii’s Homeless, Prison and Unfunded Liability Problems?

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