Applied Housing First and Harm Reduction Strategies


After 30 years of research, Housing First has finally entered mainstream discourse as an effective approach to ending homelessness, especially for those experiencing the greatest barriers to care. Evidence shows that meeting people where they are and providing services that match their specific challenges and level of need through harm reduction is a key indicator for success. But what does this actually look like in practice? While Housing First sounds simple enough in theory, seasoned clinicians and housing providers are often left with more questions than answers when it comes to implementation. Join us for a discussion about the application of Housing First and harm reduction theory to everyday practice. We’ll share clinical strategies for engaging your participants around behaviors that challenge continued tenancy, discuss how to respond to landlord and community concerns, and practice creative problem solving by applying Housing First and harm reduction principles to participant case studies.


11:45-12:00 PM | Virtual training room opens
12:00-12:10 PM | Welcome & introductions & check-in activity
12:10-12:30 PM | Key principles of harm reduction and Housing First
12:30-1:10 PM   |  Clinical strategies
1:10-1:15 PM     | Break
1:15-2:05 PM     | Case studies
2:05-2:30 PM     | Final thoughts, Q&A

Learning objectives
When attendees return to the workplace, they will be able to:

  • Define the role of harm reduction in Housing First practice
  • List three harm reduction tools to engage with participants around risk behaviors
  • Demonstrate application of harm reduction tools through group case study discussion

Target Audience: Social service providers and helping professionals with direct client contact, policy-makers, government workers, agency administrators, CoC leads, or anyone invested in ending homelessness in their community.
Social Work Practice Level: This course is appropriate for intermediate BSW/MSW learners.
Course Delivery Format: Live webinar
Interactivity: This course will offer real-time polling, break out rooms for small group discussion, and 15 minutes of Q&A time.
Social Work Continuing Education Credit: 2.25 CE Credits*
Fees: $20 general registration; additional $5 for registration withsocial work CE credit.

Registration includes access to the live event and recording, PDF of slides, and relevant training tip sheets/resources.

Session Facilitators:

Andrew Spiers, LSW (he/him) is the Director of Training and Technical Assistance for Pathways to Housing PA’s Housing First University. Andrew joined Pathways in early 2018 and served as an Assistant Team Leader and Team Leader before launching Housing First University in October 2019. Andrew holds a Master of Social Service from Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, where he concentrated in Community Practice, Policy, & Advocacy. He has taught Human Services and Sociology courses as an adjunct professor at Harcum College and conducted trainings and workshops all over the country on Housing First, harm reduction, and affirming care for LGBTQ+ communities.

Ryan Villagran, LSW (he/they) joined Housing First University in June 2021 as a Training Specialist. Ryan holds a Master of Social Work from Temple University with a concentration in Communities & Policy. His clinical background includes delivering psychiatric rehabilitation services in the mental health recovery model at a Community Integrated Recovery Center. Ryan also developed and coordinated a training program in a university setting for social workers serving transitional-aged youth and later taught a Human Behavior in the Social Environment course for graduate social work students. Ryan is involved in organizing efforts around ending mass incarceration and believes in the power of our collective imagination to dream of a better future centered around the most vulnerable members of our community.


ACE approval statement: Housing First University: a program of Pathways to Housing PA, provider #1759, is approved as an ACE provider to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE provider approval period: 01/12/2022 – 01/12/2025. Social workers completing this course receive 2.25 clinical continuing education credits.

*Housing First University, a program of Pathways to Housing PA, can provide continuing education credits to licensed social workers in 48 of the 50 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces. Due to current regulations, CE credits cannot be offered to social workers in the states of New Jersey or New York. If you are not a Licensed Social Worker, please check with your board of accreditation to ensure this training meets your licensing needs.