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Housing First: A Strategy to Reduce Homelessness and Recidivism

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The housing initiative at the Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services Society originated from the observation that homelessness is a prominent issue among clientele. Three staff members who address the homelessness issue provide housing supports (e.g., helping clients find affordable housing in a tight rental market), complementary supports (e.g., life skills), and referrals to clinical supports (e.g., alcohol and drug counselling). This paper provides an overview of different approaches to homelessness, including Housing First. Housing First involves the immediate provision of housing, which is subsequently combined with wrap-around supports. Research from the United States and Canada has demonstrated that Housing First not only has a positive impact on housing stability but also reduces criminal justice involvement and creates cost offsets in health and criminal justice services. Importantly, Housing First has been successfully adapted to meet the unique needs of Aboriginal people, a population which is over-represented in homeless counts across Canada.
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