The outputs and results of Housing First France (“Un chez-soi d’abord”) were presented last April 6 in a workshop held in the French Ministry of Health in Paris, by the Inter-ministerial delegation for accommodation and access to housing (Dihal). The HOME_EU French team of the Aix-Marseille University participated in the evaluation of Housing First in France, along with Dr Pascale Estecahandy, and they showed the results of it in this workshop.

The Un chez soi d’abord program was coordinated by the Inter-ministerial delegation for accommodation and access to housing (Dihal) and deployed between 2011 and 2016 in four French cities. It aimed to offer first and foremost, immediate access to ordinary and independent housing for the most vulnerable homeless people with severe mental disorders; secondly, to offer a non-coercive medical-social follow-up, provided only at the participant’s request.

The aim of the workshop was to share the lessons learned from six years of experimentation, sustainability and national expansion with the Housing First model in France.

Professor Pascal Auquier – director of the EA 3279 Research unit on Public health in Marseille – presented the results of quantitative research. In France, 703 homeless people had entered the Un chez soi d’abord research program, with 353 being included in the Un chez soi d’abord group while 350 others were in the control group –using traditional services for homeless people. Before entering the Un chez soi d’abord program, participants had been homeless for eight and a half years on average, during which time they spent four and a half years on the street. Additionally, 79% of homeless participants had an addiction and 100% had severe mental illnesses (schizophrenia or bipolar disorders) upon entering the program.

Participants in the Un chez soi d’abord group had been able to access ordinary and individual housing in an average of 28 days; 80% of these dwellings are in the private rental market. Two years in the Un chez soi d’abord program, 85% were still housed, the majority had resumed contact with their entourage and 20% had been accompanied to vocational training, employment or voluntary activity. The recovery and quality of life scores had improved over the two years, in both groups, and slightly more in the Un chez soi d’abord group, which report feeling less stigmatized overall. Moreover, the length of stay in hospital has dramatically decreased in the Un chez soi d’abord group (more than 50%). Lastly, the avoided costs in health care spending, accommodation and use of penal services in the Un chez soi d’abord group when compared to control compensate the cost of the program, thereby making the Un chez soi d’abord alternative cost-saving.

Building on these results, 16 new housing projects will be deployed in France between 2018 and 2022.

From left to right: Coralie Lemoine (M.D, Researcher), Aurélie Tinland (Psychiatrist, Researcher), Junie Petit (Ph.D. student), Thomas Gesmond (MSc), Sandrine Loubière (Economist, Researcher)