Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to housing first in Metro Vancouver

August 01, 2019

Canham, S. L., Wister, A., & O’Dea, E. (2019). Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to housing first in Metro Vancouver. Evaluation and Program Planning, 75, 69–77.  

Full Article 


To understand the experience of Metro Vancouver's Homelessness Partnering Strategy-funded Housing First program and how it is functioning from the perspective of a representative sample of providers and clients who deliver and receive HF services. Methods: Thirty-four clients and providers who currently or formerly delivered HF in Metro Vancouver participated in one-on-one interviews (n = 26) or focus groups (n = 8) between March and April 2017 and data were thematically analyzed.


Strengths of the HF program included: the ability to transition persons from the street into housing with individualized service supports and, in certain cases, with 12-month rent subsidies, household goods, and connection to community resources. Identified program weaknesses were: eligibility criteria, limited rent subsidy funds, limited provider capacity, and workload burden. Suggested opportunities to improve HF were: streamlining federal and provincial reporting and rent subsidy systems and building friendly landlord networks. Potential threats to HF described were: limited affordable housing, stigma and discrimination toward clients, inadequate income assistance, and limited opportunity for cross-sector collaboration.


The delivery of HF in regions that have limited affordable housing presents unique challenges. Recommendations are provided to improve HF practice and policy in these contexts.