About the "Housing First" Program for Homeless Families
2009/10 Housing First Annual Report
Created in 1988, Beyond Shelter's "Housing First" Program for Homeless Families
is an innovative, cost-effective approach to ending and preventing
family homelessness. Since its inception, the "housing first" methodology
has helped thousands of homeless families - primarily single mothers with children - to rebuild their lives in permanent rental housing in residential neighborhoods located throughout Los Angeles County.
The "Housing First" Program was
designed as the "next step" for homeless families in the emergency
shelter system in L.A. County. Homeless families are referred to Beyond Shelter by 70 "referring agencies.
the program helped over 4,500 homeless families, more
than 12,000 adults and children, rebuild
their lives in permanent housing.
years, the "housing first" approach has become widely recognized as a model
for ending family homelessness. The methodology
has been adapted by other agencies throughout the country through Beyond Shelter's Institute
for Research, Training and Technical Assistance
and the National Alliance to End
Homelessness' Housing First Network
. Beyond Shelter's "Housing First" Program has also received numerous national and international awards
The "housing first" methodology has been further enhanced through Beyond Shelter's design and implementation of a number of national demonstration projects
. In 1999 Beyond Shelter's "Housing First" Program was one of 19 projects nationwide selected by the
to document and
disseminate what works to build stronger communities as part of its "Wanted: Solutions for America"
initiative. In 1998 the program was enhanced through one of five grants awarded in the Los Angeles area for the U.S. Department of Labor's
, which helped 200 primarily single mothers move into the workforce.
Beyond Shelter's "Housing First" Program serves homeless families with dependent
children at or below the federal poverty level throughout Los
- Families served consist primarily of single mothers with an average of three children each.
- Approximately 80% of participants are receiving welfare when they enroll in the program.
- Approximately 90% of the families served are people of color (African-American, Latino and Asian).
- Approximately 40% of participating families became homeless as a result of domestic violence.
- Approximately 20% have a history of substance abuse.
- Approximately 75% of families served would be considered multi-problem families with unstable living patterns.
Read personal accounts of "Housing First" clients' success stories
Homeless families are referred to the "Housing First" Program
through a network of over 70 agencies in Los Angeles County, or they walk in to
one of Beyond Shelter's Homeless Access Centers at its headquarters or satellite locations in Downtown L.A., Pacoima, Long Beach or South Los Angeles. Once enrolled in "Housing First," a family works with a case
manager to develop an individualized Family Action Plan, which
identifies and outlines the steps they will take to gain social, emotional
and economic stability.
All families must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the program:
- They consist of one or two adults with legal custody of one or more children under the age of 18.
- Adult family members have maintained their sobriety for at least six months.
- If an adult family member has experienced domestic violence, they have been separated from the batterer for at least
four months and are participating in or have completed counseling upon arrival.
Once enrolled, homeless families are assigned a case manager, who conducts
an in-depth assessment of their socioeconomic needs, identifying their
personal strengths and weaknesses. Together, the family and case
manager develop an individualized Family Action Plan
, which provides the underlying
structure for the delivery of supportive services. When the plan is acceptable to
both the family and the case manager, a contract is signed and
enrollment is complete.
STEP 2. Providing Housing Relocation Assistance
The case manager and family then meet with Beyond Shelter's Housing Resources
staff to begin the process of relocation to permanent housing in a
neighborhood of the client's choice. Beyond Shelter assists families
with the process of relocation, helping participants overcome
barriers to obtaining housing such as poor credit and eviction
histories, unemployment and lack of move-in funds, and conducting
lease and other negotiations with management companies and
Developing Housing Resources
Beyond Shelter has developed relationships
with over 500 landlords and building managers, representing
thousands of properties throughout L.A. County. Landlords are motivated
to work with the program because of the advocacy
and credibility provided by Beyond Shelter staff. Beyond Shelter
offers low-income families assistance with move-in expenses through the Los Angeles
Emergency Food and Shelter Rental Assistance Program. Many families are provided
Section 8 housing subsidies through the Housing Authorities of the
City and County of Los Angeles.
STEP 3. Providing Home-Based Case Management
each family has relocated to permanent housing, the case manager provides
individualized support for up to one full year as the family carries out their Family
. Once in their new housing, the formerly homeless
family is introduced to their new neighborhood - its shopping, transportation and
community agencies. Families are supported as they
improve their coping skills and reorient to normal
living patterns. They are provided assistance with
homemaking, budget planning and money management. Case
managers work in partnership with the family on issues such as education and literacy,
career development, health, family dynamics and recreation. Progress
is evaluated quarterly.