The Case for Housing First in the European Union: A Critical Evaluation of Concerns about Effectiveness

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Housing First is now central to strategic responses to homelessness
across much of the North of the European Union and is also being piloted
in other member states. Concerns exist that a lack of ‘fidelity’, i.e. model drift
away from the original New York Pathways to Housing approach may undermine
the effectiveness of European ‘Housing First’ services. There are also some
concerns that Housing First is being ‘sold’ to policymakers via a selective use
of evidence that makes it appear more effective than is actually the case. This
article suggests a typology of Housing First services as a framework within
which to test concerns about fidelity and the strength of the evidence base.
The article concludes that services that follow the broad operational principles
of a Housing First approach are highly effective in a range of national contexts.
While there are some gaps in evidence, particularly in relation to single-site
models of Housing First, very high fidelity to the original Pathways to Housing
approach does not appear to be necessary to end chronic homelessness at
high rates. Equally, while there are some other limitations in the evidence base
for Housing First that should be addressed, centred on what happens to
chronically homeless people following re-housing, research and policy
attention should also focus on the potential of the Housing First philosophy to
significantly reduce chronic homelessness across the European Union.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-43
JournalEuropean Journal of Homelessness
Issue number2
Early online date1 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


  • Homelessness
  • Housing First

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