HIF Champion Spotlight
Envisioning a community where everyone has a home
HomeFirst works to end homelessness by providing a full spectrum of services to help people find a home, improve their lives, and stay housed. With more than 40 years of experience, they are a leading provider of housing opportunities—emergency, interim, and permanent—for our unhoused and housing insecure neighbors in the Bay Area. In 2021, they served nearly 5,000 individuals and families, including 501 veterans. Of the clients who they permanently housed in 2020, 80% remained housed in 2021.
They view housing as a fundamental human right and these guiding principles and best practices are woven into everything they do:
Housing First: House participants as quickly as possible without any preconditions. Once housed, work on stabilization and connecting participants to additional resources.
Harm Reduction: Promotes health and choices which meet people where they are. This approach allows the person to come before anything else and focuses on quality of life.
Low Barrier: At interim and emergency shelter sites, eliminate as many requirements as possible to ease entry. A low barrier does not mean “no rules” but creates a space where someone can take their first steps out of homelessness—meeting them exactly as they are.
Solving homelessness takes everyone working together
HomeFirst excels at working with the hardest to serve unhoused populations going the extra mile to help them find and keep permanent housing—establishing or rebuilding a foundation of stability for those neighbors needing additional support.
They meet each person where they are and build a housing plan centered around the individual. This approach has proven much more effective in ending homelessness rather than just managing it.
In addition to providing services to the unhoused, they coordinate client care with other service providers and government agencies. This collaborative approach eliminates duplication, connects program participants to the right services sooner, increases accountability among providers, and allows HomeFirst to share data and set common performance goals.
They also collaborate with other organizations to develop long-term solutions to homelessness. By working together and creating resources strategically, their vision of ending homelessness locally can become a reality.
Emergency housing grants and renovations projects
For several years, we’ve partnered with HomeFirst through our Emergency Housing Fund providing their clients with emergency housing grants. This enables HomeFirst to immediately take action and keep families in imminent danger of becoming unhoused – housed. It means when someone loses a job or is fleeing a domestic violence situation, they will not experience further trauma by becoming unhoused. Our collaboration stabilizes our neighbors and keeps people working and attending school without the fear of losing the place they call home.
HIF also upgraded HomeFirst’s emergency shelter space via our Renovation Program at no cost to HomeFirst. For those in our communities seeking emergency shelter, offering a place that includes essential resources such as a kitchen, laundry, and showers is often the first step to reconnecting people to permanent housing. In their shelters, HomeFirst is able to increase the support needed to help get people off the street and connect them to additional services. With support from HIF, HomeFirst continues to serve their guests with privacy and dignity, and enables them to begin to process their experiences.
The impact of our work together
“HomeFirst does amazing work in the community and we’re proud to support their efforts. Since 2020, HIF distributed 40 EHF grants, totaling more than $65,700, to their clients so they can stay securely housed,” said Steve Sullivan, Executive Director, Housing Industry Foundation. “They are a stellar partner agency providing the highest quality, innovative, and culturally competent services—rooted in passion and compassion for their clients. Collaboration is in their DNA.”
“Solving homelessness is only possible when we work together. When we all raise a hand and say, ‘count me in’ – then we can bridge the gaps between our community’s wealth and resources and those living on the fringes. We know strong communities take partnerships and a willingness to examine systems from the inside out to create a path forward for the most vulnerable among us to belong and thrive,” said Andrea Urton, CEO, HomeFirst.
Read more about HomeFirst