Over 600 policymakers, homeless service providers, advocates and others gathered in New Orleans last week for the first ever Housing First Partners Conference. CSH was a proud sponsor of the event, which was organized by Pathways to Housing and the Downtown Emergency Services Center of Seattle, Washington. Housing First is an approach that moves homeless people directly in to housing, then offers supportive services to help them stabilize their lives. Housing First has gained broad acceptance in many communities as model for those who have the highest barriers to housing stability including mental illness, substance abuse or other challenges.
The conference was an opportunity for people to learn from leaders in the field and from one another, to share best practices, and to explore barriers and frustrations. CSH was strongly represented at the conference by CSH staff who moderated or presented in over a dozen workshop sessions, sharing our experience of how Housing First and supportive housing make an effective model for ending homelessness.
CSH's Director of Innovations, Richard Cho, had the opportunity to briefly address the conference and reflected, "Years from now, we will look back on this event as marking the moment when the Housing First went from being an experiment on the fringes of practice—viewed by some as one of those crazy idea that would never work—to an established and central part of the effort to end homelessness and to reach the most vulnerable people experiencing persistent crises, disconnection, and exclusion... So everyone here in attendance today can now say that you were there at that critical turning point when Housing First went mainstream, and when all of you true believers, went from outsiders on the fringes of practice, became the insiders and leaders of a national movement."