In 2008, the City of Philadelphia engaged Pathways to bring its evidence-based Housing First model to Philadelphia to help end chronic homelessness. We currently house 550 people in regular apartments across the community, with an unprecedented 85% housing retention rate for participants. These same participants would be considered not housing ready in other programs.
As an alternative to emergency shelter and transitional housing, Pathways’ Housing First model is simple: provide housing without preconditions, and then address underlying issues around mental health, substance use, medical care, and education to welcome people back into the community. We believe that housing is a basic human right, and everyone deserves a place to call home.
Many Pathways participants have serious, chronic, and untreated medical issues that have been neglected for years and require significant healthcare coordination. Pathways’ Integrated Care Clinic was launched in 2016 to ensure our participants have access to a person-centered approach that emphasizes recovery, wellness, trauma-informed care, and the integration of physical and behavioral health care. Outcomes have improved up to 67% for hypertension, obesity, smoking, and diabetes for participants who are treated at the clinic.
In late 2014, Pathways opened the Philadelphia Furniture Bank as a centralized resource for furniture for human service organizations from across Philadelphia. Member agencies schedule appointments for clients who then choose their furniture to start fresh as they move out of homelessness. Each individual or family receives a full home’s worth of furniture, including brand new bedding. The Furniture Bank recently furnished its 3,000th home.
In fall 2019, we launched Housing First University to disseminate our comprehensive and inclusive solution to ending homelessness beyond our community in Philadelphia, in hopes of reaching other cities and countries struggling with the same issues. Housing First University builds on the expertise gathered by professionals who use this model every day in their roles at Pathways to Housing PA. We work with our clients to tailor solutions that are responsive to their unique needs across three service offerings: training, technical assistance, and consulting.