The Housing First Philosophy

man opening his apartment door

The Housing First model has been in use in the United States since the late 1980’s, yet many still regard it as a radical, high-risk intervention. Common misconceptions of Housing First as an “anything goes” approach have prevented more widespread adoption of this proven successful innovation in addressing homelessness for those with mental health challenges, substance use disorders, and other disabilities. In this webinar, attendees will learn about the philosophy and key principles of Housing First, and compare success rates of Housing First against those of traditional recovery-based housing models. Attendees will explore the both benefits and challenges of working from a Housing First approach, and discuss the vital role of harm reduction in working with Housing First program participants.


11:45-12:00 PM | Virtual training room opens
12:00-2:10 PM   | Welcome & introductions & check-in activity
12:10-12:40 PM | The history of Housing First, 5 key principles
12:40-12:55 PM | Benefits and challenges
12:55-1:05 PM   | Break
1:05-1:25 PM     | Comparison to traditional housing models
1:25-1:55 PM     | Overlap with harm reduction and other evidence-based practices
1:55-2:15 PM     | Review, closing remarks, Q&A

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

  • Identify the five key principles of the Housing First model
  • Explain the benefits of Housing First vs. traditional recovery-based housing models
  • Explain the role of harm reduction in Housing First work

Target Audience: Social service providers and helping professionals working in homeless services, governmental bodies, community groups, agency administrators, policy-makers, and anyone invested in ending homelessness in their community.  
Social Work Practice Level: This course is appropriate for beginner, intermediate, and advanced BSW/ MSW learners 
Content Level: This course covers beginner and intermediate level material 
Course Delivery Format: Live webinar
Interactivity: This course will offer 15 minutes of Q&A time, as well as real-time polling, and group discussion prompts. 
LSW/LCSW Continuing Education Credit: $20 general registration; additional $5 for registration with LSW/LCSW CE credit  

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

Session Facilitators:

Andrew Spiers, MSS, LSW 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, MSW, LSW  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, #1759, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. Housing First University: a program of Pathways to Housing PA maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 1/12/2022-1/12/2025. Social workers completing this course receive 2 clinical continuing education credits.

PCB Approved for 2.25 hours. Provider Status Agreement #629. Valid through 01/15/2023.

* 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 all 13 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.