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Adapting Housing First to the Emergency Shelter Context

The reality is, emergency shelters do not tackle the root issues of homelessness. By providing a bed and meals, they are just simply keeping people alive for another day. If we want to address the systemic nature of homelessness, we need to change the way we address this problem – Unity Project for Relief of Homelessness in London is doing just that.

With the help of a $200,108 Community Vitality Grant, Unity Project is systematically changing the way we address the issue of homelessness by adapting Housing First practices to the emergency shelter context.

Housing First is an evidence-based tactic that addresses the issue of homelessness by getting people housed and providing them with customized, wrap-around supports based on their individual needs. Traditionally, Housing First practices have targeted the chronically homeless rather than those experiencing one time, episodic or periodic homelessness. That’s what makes Unity Project’s proposal a game-changer – it’s bringing the Housing First principal to emergency shelter users, a population that would otherwise never receive it.

This is a new and innovative approach to housing first, as Housing First principles were not built on the premise that they will be used in emergency shelters.  Unity Project is paving the way forward by transforming their own services to adapt Housing First principles that are nuanced for the emergency shelter context. The hope is to provide the missing link in the system chain to help end homelessness in our community.

What’s more, is that in this process, Unity Project will be developing a toolkit and case study to provide a roadmap for other emergency shelters and agencies to adapt the same principles and implement their own housing first solutions. The hope is to provide the missing link in the system chain to help end homelessness in our community.

“Shelters in London are increasingly expected to operate by housing first principles, but lack the road-map outlining how to apply Housing First within the emergency shelter context,” says Chuck Lazenby, Executive Director, Unity Project. This project fills that gap. The game-changing solution is that we break the cycle of homeless, create long-term solutions, and have an entire system impact in doing so.”

Video: Click here

London Community Foundation
Grant Story: Click here