Who We Are The Story of Pathways to Housing DC
While the model is simple, the Housing First Program is very complex and requires dedicated staff to coordinate all aspects (outreach, housing, healthcare, treatment and case management) of the program in order for the people we serve to be successful in their recoveries. Housing First means there are no conditions that have to be met before the person moves in. Housing is provided in apartments that are spread throughout the District, with each client holding their own lease. Using “scattered sites,” we are able to give each client choice in where they would like to live, helping to foster a sense of home and self-determination. Stable, supportive housing is merely the first step towards reintegrating into their community, rebuilding family relationships, reconnecting with their faith fellowships, and experiencing an improvement in overall physical health and psychological wellbeing.
After receiving housing first, every client is matched with a support team (Assertive Community Treatment Team, Veterans Housing First Team and/or Permanent Supportive Housing Team) comprised of psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, certified addictions counselors, employment specialists, and peer health specialists. The team works together to provide comprehensive community-based treatment and support services around the clock, with a focus on integrating both health and social well-being into the recovery plan. These vital interventions are designed to empower client choice and support successful independent living. Using this model, we have been able to maintain a housing retention rate of at least 89% with clients who have traditionally been viewed as “treatment resistant,” and “not ready for housing.” We believe that housing is a basic human right, that anyone who says they want a safe place to live is “housing ready,” and that virtually all people can be successful in housing with the proper combination of supports. Our success using the Housing First model demonstrates that the vast majority of people we connect with permanent supportive housing stay in that housing and on the path to recovery.
How Pathways Helped Restore David's Eyesight and Hope
David was homeless in and around Bethesda for almost 30 years, living in the woods for most of that time. Constantly on the move, David survived by panhandling, dumpster diving, and selling scrap metal. David’s untreated cataracts finally caught up with him and he completely lost his eyesight. David felt his way, mostly by memory, to the panhandling and dumpster-diving spots that he knew before going blind. A homeless outreach worker connected David to a Pathways case worker, who took him to a doctor who offered to operate to restore David’s sight, for free! David was able to see again for the first time in years. In October, David moved into his own apartment. Having his sight back and a home of his own has made all the difference in David’s life.