The Housing First 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. Housing is provided in apartments scattered throughout the city of Philadelphia. This "scattered site" model fosters a sense of home and self-determination, and it helps speed the reintegration of Pathways clients into the community. Our goal is for people to become part of the community, and not just live in the community.
The Pathways Housing First Model has been remarkably successful in addressing chronic homelessness. Dr. Sam Tsemberis founded the model in New York in 1992 to test his revolutionary belief that those with severe psychiatric and addiction challenges living on the street could go directly into housing. Time and time again, Pathways succeeded in housing the people who had failed in other programs. Since its beginning in Philadelphia in 2008, Pathways to Housing PA has grown from its initial goal of housing the most resistant 125 people from the City's chronic street homeless population to housing more than 400 of those folks. Not only are they housed, but they are reclaiming their lives, breaking their sometimes decades long cycle of homelessness.
Pathways to Housing PA maintains an 85% housing retention rate even amongst those individuals not considered "housing ready" by other programs. And here's the "kicker"... it costs us less than keeping people homeless. If we add up all the cost involved with a person living on the streets - jail, ambulance services, police interventions, emergency department visits, medical and psychiatric hospitalizations, soup kitchens, shelter nights - it averages out to be much more than the cost of subsidizing rent and providing appropriate services. Couple that with the fact that we rent vacant market rent apartments in the city, helping to retain our city's tax base, and we've got a win/win! Our services are good for the person who is now housed, and good for our community as a whole!
The concept might seem simple, but the results are revolutionary... and the services provided are intensive and involved.
Pathways' staff work in multi-disciplinary teams to help each individual that comes to us to move out of homelessess, to reconnect with family and friends, to manage their finances, and to re-learn tasks like grocery shopping, cooking for themselves, doing laundry, or simply riding the bus. The staff spend 75 - 80% of their time in the community helping our program participants to reclaim their place in our neighborhoods as friends, parents, partners, church members, and family members.