In Los Angeles, California in 1988, the “Housing First” Program at PATH Beyond Shelter was launched by Tanya Tull in response to a sharp increase in the number of homeless families with children. In 1992 Dr. Sam Tsemberis, a faculty member of the Department of Psychiatry of the New York University School of Medicine, founded Pathways to Housing in New York City. Housing First for the chronically homeless is premised on the notion that housing is a basic human right, and so should not be denied to anyone, even if they are abusing alcohol or other substances. The Housing First model, thus, is philosophically in contrast to models that require the homeless to abjure substance-abuse and seek treatment in exchange for housing.
Illustration by Cristoph Niemann