It’s Time We Talked the Walk on Housing First

Spreading the Message and
Evidence of its Success

Richard ChoUnited States Interagency Council on Homelessness Deputy Director Richard Cho has written a blog piece, “It’s Time We Talked the Walk on Housing First.”

This blog post is very timely for NJ now that Governor Chris Christie has announced the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) will issue 500 State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP) vouchers through a new statewide Housing First program.

The vouchers will be available to chronically homeless individuals and/or families who are high utilizers of public systems. This initiative continues the administration’s strong record of reducing homelessness in New Jersey.

“…The Housing First approach is not just one possible approach to ending homelessness, but in fact, the only truly effective approach to ending homelessness.’

Writes Cho.

Cho makes the case that to truly implement Housing First communities must “walk the walk” which means they must:

“Align their orientations, programs, policies, and procedures around the idea that the way to end people’s homelessness is by helping them obtain and maintain a safe and stable home.”

He calls on successful Housing First implementors to become leaders.

“It’s not enough to just do Housing First well in our own programs; we also need to be able to explain, defend, and share the approach widely.”

To take Housing First to scale, he suggests:

  1. Speaking with Greater Precision
  2. Opening Housing First’s “Black Box” and
  3. Spreading the Message to New Audiences and Horizons.

“Housing First has been a catalyst for bringing us closer to an end to homelessness and for realizing our larger goals of social justice. Let’s in turn do justice to Housing First by being effective messengers and ambassadors. Let’s spread the message and the evidence about Housing First to those new horizons and non-traditional audiences. Only by doing that can we bring Housing First to scale.”

Concludes Cho.