Image from Pathways Vermont’s website.
Housing First is a model for addressing chronic homelessness for people with mental health disabilities and/or co-occurring substance use disorder. While some shelters have requisite sobriety periods or other barriers to entry, Housing First initiatives emphasize providing housing as the first step for intervention. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recognizes Housing First as the most effective intervention strategy.
Pathways Vermont’s Housing First program is the first of its kind in a rural setting, and fills a much-needed gap that has proven to be essential for the people in the program. Funding for Pathways Vermont’s Housing First program originally came from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It is now funded primarily through the state’s mental health and corrections budgets and Medicaid. Housing First puts an end to the instability that comes with chronic homelessness, and provides essential support services to aid in their transitions.
Since 2010, Housing First has helped more than 250 individuals in Vermont end the cycle of chronic homelessness and more than 200 additional people who transitioned out of correctional facilities and into their own homes.
The outcomes associated with Housing First are a testament to how safe and stable housing acts as the foundation for all other parts of someone’s life: once housing is secured, other health outcomes improve as well. The success of Pathways Vermont’s Housing First program touch on this association, as the retention rate of the overall program is 85% in comparison to an average of 45% in traditional support programs. The program also boasts an 81% success rate of participants who have not returned to long term incarceration. In doing so, the program also saves the taxpayers of Vermont money by reducing corrections costs, as well as psychiatric hospital stays, emergency motel vouchers and residential treatment.
Currently, Pathways Vermont provides Housing First services to people experiencing chronic homelessness or coming out of corrections in Chittenden, Franklin, Addison, Windham, Windsor and Washington Counties.
Three Pathways Success stories (7:31 min. video, 148 MB)
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