Housing first and the risk of failure: A comment on Westermeyer and Lee (2013)

Academic Article


  • Over the last 5 years, community policies in response to homelessness have shifted toward offering permanent housing accompanied by treatment supports, without requiring treatment success as a precondition. The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has embraced this "Housing First" approach. A 2013 report sounds a contrarian note. In a 16-person quasi-experimental study, 8 veterans who entered VA's permanent supportive housing did poorly, whereas 8 veterans who remained inmore traditional treatment did well. In this commentary, we suggest that the report was problematic in the conceptualization of thematters it sought to address and in its science. Nonetheless, it highlights challenges that must not be ignored. From this report and other research, we now know that even more attention is required to support clinical recovery for Housing First clients. Successful implementation of Housing First requires guidance from agency leaders, and their support for clinical staff when individual clients fare poorly.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kertesz SG; Austin EL; Holmes SK; Pollio DE; Lukas CVD
  • Start Page

  • 559
  • End Page

  • 562
  • Volume

  • 203
  • Issue

  • 7