Ask Stephen: Housing first versus supportive living

Mar 1, 2016 by


Throughout every month we invite our Facebook friends to post questions for our Director of Operations, Stephen Bartolo. The answer(s) are published on Facebook on the last day of each month. Do you have a question about what we do? Then Ask Stephen by visiting us on Facebook or emailing Stephen at

Here are this month’s questions and answers courtesy of Stephen Bartolo.

Q. Sometimes I see Brigid’s Place referred to as Housing First but some of your other locations are called supportive housing. What’s the difference?

A. Another great question from our Facebook friends!

The National Alliance to End Homelessness defines housing first as “an approach to ending homelessness that centres on providing people experiencing homelessness with housing as quickly as possible – and then providing services as needed.”

Brigid’s follows this model. Our goal is to offer housing as soon as a bed becomes available. We do not want our men or women to have episodic or chronic length of stays in our shelter programs. This goes back to my point in previous submissions that everyone deserves a home regardless of their current state or circumstances. After a woman moves to Brigid’s, we build rapport and then start addressing some of the factors behind her homelessness; re: trauma, mental health, addiction, etc.

It’s important to note Brigid’s is also supportive housing. We use that term to illustrate that we have employees in our buildings 24/7 to support our resident needs. All of our residential programs follow the supportive housing model and essentially the housing first model as well with a few small exceptions.

The overall goal of ending homelessness, restoring dignity and creating a sense of community remains the same.

Best Regards,

Stephen Bartolo

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