The Housing First Model

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Ending homelessness, one person at a time.

Pathways to Housing PA (PTHPA) was founded to positively transform the lives of people experiencing mental health challenges and chronic homelessness by supporting self-directed recovery and community integration. As an alternative to a system of emergency shelter/ transitional housing progressions, PTHPA’s model is simple: provide housing first, and then combine that housing with supportive treatment services in the areas of mental and physical health, substance abuse, education, and employment.

While the Housing First Model is very simple, the Housing First Program is very complex and requires dedicated staff to coordinate all aspects (outreach, housing, healthcare, treatment and case management) of the program. To be eligible for our Housing First Program, people must be chronically homeless and suffer from severe psychiatric disabilities and/or substance use disorders. Therefore, building a trusting relationship with these individuals living on the street, which may take many months, is the very first step of the program. Once a relationship is established and the person agrees to let us work with them, he or she chooses an apartment, it is furnished and then we celebrate as they move in.

Housing First means there are no conditions that have to be met before the person moves in.  He or she does not need to agree to psychiatric treatment or be clean and sober. The new tenant needs to abide by the same laws and rules that we all live by, they need to pay 30% of their income toward rent and utilities (whatever the income - 30% of 0 is 0) and they need to agree to let us visit them in their home at least twice per month. Some people require much more service time and we have the flexibility to provide the level of care needed for each individual.

At this point, even though the program participant is housed in his or her own apartment, stabilization in their new home can be a very difficult process. Many obstacles often impede a person's recovery and housing maintenance: psychosis, depression, loneliness, acute and chronic health problems, dysfunctional families and social relationships, hospitalization, incarcerations, failure to reduce drug use and its related harmful behaviors, poor medication adherence, and/or the inability to manage finances. Fortunately, PTHPA’s Treatment Teams have the robust competencies and skills required to meet the multiple treatment, rehabilitation, and support needs of the people we serve.

We want people to do well, to meet their goals and to live happily and healthfully in their new living arrangements. To that end, Pathways' staff is dedicated to doing whatever it takes to help each participant "make it." Our services are delivered with grace and compassion as we help our clients learn the skills they need to succeed. There isn't magic at Pathways. We have no secret recipe. We have kindness, and smiles, and the offer of a cup of tea on a cold day. We have an ear to listen and a hand to hold.  Isn't that about all any of us really need or want? 

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