Pathways to Housing was founded by Dr. Sam Tsemberis in 1992, and is widely credited as being the originator of the Housing First model of addressing homelessness among people with psychiatric disabilities.
The Housing First model is simple: provide housing first, and then combine that housing with supportive treatment services in the areas of mental and physical health, substance abuse, education, and employment. Housing is provided in apartments scattered throughout a community. This "scattered site" model fosters a sense of home and self-determination, and it helps speed the reintegration of Pathways clients into the community.
The Pathways model has been remarkably successful in addressing chronic homelessness. Since its founding, Pathways has housed more than 600 people in New York alone, and the program maintains an 85% retention rate even amongst those individuals not considered "housing ready" by other programs.
In addition to its New York headquarters, Pathways to Housing now has program offices in Washington DC, Philadelphia and Vermont, and the Pathways Housing First model has been replicated in more than 40 cities across the United States, as well as in Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal.
In 2009, Pathways to Housing received three prestigious federal stimulus grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to build new programs in new communities. SAMHSA is the agency charged with improving rehabilitative services to reduce the impacts of substance abuse and mental illnesses.
"Some people think when you give housing away that you're actually enabling people as opposed to helping them get better. Our experience has been that the offer of housing first, and then treatment, actually has more effective results in reducing addiction and mental health symptoms, than trying to do it the other way. The other way works for some people, but it hasn't worked for the people who are chronically homeless."
"Pathways to Housing has made a significant contribution to ending homelessness in Philadelphia. We are thrilled to partner with them and look forward to working together until no one is living on our streets."
"In New York, we know firsthand the benefit of cutting-edge outreach strategies centered on the Housing First ideology. Without these important tactics, and the demonstrated work of Pathways to Housing, we would not be where we are today, with 47 percent fewer homeless individuals living on City streets since 2005."
"In less than one year, Pathways in Philadelphia has housed 89 men and women, some of whom have lived on the streets of our city and passed through system after system for years. The Housing First model” engage, house, and serve is a tribute to human hope and compassion."
"The Brooklyn Mental Health Court values highly its partnership with Pathways to Housing in keeping persons suffering with mental illness who are caught in the criminal justice system out of jail and in treatment."
As originators of the Housing First model, Pathways to Housing seeks to transform individual lives by ending homelessness and supporting recovery for those with psychiatric disabilities. We believe housing is a basic human right, and aspire to change the practice of homeless services by:
Providing immediate access to permanent independent apartments, without preconditions
Setting the standard for services driven by consumer choice that support recovery and community integration
Conducting research to find innovative solutions and best practices for those who suffer from mental illness and homelessness