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Julia R. Woodhall-Melnik, James R. Dunn
In evaluating the effectiveness of the Housing First (HF) model in combating chronic homelessness, the authors look to previous literature documenting evidence-based outcomes for program participants. Success is measured based on criteria related to housing and retention outcomes, service use and cost, substance use and psychiatric symptoms, and overall quality of life. Research found consistent improvements in residential stability and decreased contact with emergency services and the criminal justice system. The impact of the HF model on substance use disorders and psychiatric symptoms is less clear and can vary based on populations. Outcomes are contrasted against the more traditional Treatment First (TF) model.
While research provides evidence of success for some beneficiaries of HF programs, the degree of efficacy is often mixed and varies based on outcome variable and type of population. When considering deploying a HF model in any community, it is fundamental that the structure is specifically designed to meet the needs of the local population. The authors also stress the need for further long-term research on the impact the HF model has on specific sub-populations and substance use and psychiatric disorders.
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