Housing First

The City of Tucson’s Housing First Program works to prevent and end homelessness through a comprehensive array of program strategies including:

  • Engagement Services including street outreach, homeless protocol, and mobile shower programs which serve to build a bridge between unsheltered Tucsonans and the resources they need to escape homelessness.
  • Housing Navigation and Connector Services which connect persons experiencing homelessness to short- and long-term housing solutions through housing-focused and comprehensive case management.
  • Emergency and Long-term Housing provided at four City-owned emergency shelters and long-term housing subsidy programs.

The City of Tucson Housing First Program provides a comprehensive array of engagement, shelter, and housing services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness in the Tucson area. Specific services include homeless protocol, street outreach, mobile shower, emergency shelter, housing navigation, and permanent supportive housing programs.

Street Outreach Services

Street outreach services are conducted by professional and volunteer outreach workers who work in teams to visit homeless encampments and other places frequented by unsheltered individuals and families. Street outreach workers provide basic needs assistance including but not limited to first aid supplies, clothing, food, warm and cold weather supplies, and other items with the aim of building rapport and trust with unsheltered persons. Street outreach workers use evidence-based strategies to engage persons experiencing homelessness and to connect them to emergency shelter, housing navigation, and other services to address their individual needs.

Mobile Shower Services

Mobile shower services are provided 4 days/week in the Tucson area. The City’s mobile shower program offers showers for unsheltered persons at a variety of community locations including meal sites, drop-in centers, and other places frequented by individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

Like street outreach services, the mobile shower program is designed to address a basic human need while building trusting relationships that support individuals and families to escape homelessness through direct placement in local shelter and service programs.

Emergency Shelter Services

Emergency shelter services are provided at four City-owned emergency shelter locations including former hotels and congregate shelter facilities. Shelter services are provided for individual adults, couples, and families with children. City-owned shelters house approximately 200 individuals nightly and provide short-term housing assistance while shelter residents work with a housing navigator to identify and obtain longer-term housing assistance.

Housing Navigation Services

Housing navigation services are provided by a team of human services professionals with expertise in the local housing market and available housing assistance programs. Housing Navigators assist individuals and families to develop long-term housing sustainability plans and to access available housing subsidies including supportive housing programs, Housing Choice Vouchers, Public Housing, and other assistance. Housing Navigators provide the hand-over-hand assistance and individual advocacy that is often needed to ensure smooth transitions from homelessness to long-term housing.

Permanent Supportive Housing

Permanent supportive housing programs administered by the Housing First team provide long-term housing for individuals with disabilities who have experienced significant lengths of homelessness during their lifetime. This non-time-limited housing allows individuals at the greatest risk of returning to homelessness with long-term housing, intensive case management, and comprehensive wrap-around services to support their permanent housing stability.

Homeless Protocol

The City’s compassionate response to encampments of unsheltered persons on public property (parks, etc.). Through the protocol process, community members can report local encampments to the program. City staff visit reported encampments and use a triage system to determine the most appropriate responses.

Low-risk encampments are supported through street outreach services while higher-risk encampments in which there are threats to health or safety are relocated through an intensive relocation strategy which includes immediate access to shelter and services.

Learn More about Homeless Protocol


The Housing First Approach

The City of Tucson follows a Housing First approach in all housing programs for people experiencing homelessness managed or funded by the Housing & Community Development Department. Housing First is an evidence-based approach to ending homelessness that centers on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing, and then providing additional supports and services as needed.

The Housing First approach includes five key pillars, all of which are equally important and needed to promote successful housing outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.

1. Immediate Access to Housing with No Pre-Conditions

Housing First programs do not require people to have a job or participate in behavioral health, substance abuse treatment, or other services to access housing. Research shows that people are best able to benefit from these services and make personal changes to improve their housing stability after they have a permanent roof over their head.

2. Participant Choice and Self-Determination

Housing First programs acknowledge that each person’s experience is different and that every person, regardless of their housing status, has the right to make their own decisions. This includes where to live, what types of services to participate in and where, and the support to make their own decisions about employment and personal goals.

3. Recovery Orientation

People experiencing homelessness have often experienced trauma, both while homeless and before becoming homelessness. Trauma associated with domestic abuse, mental illness, and other issues are often the cause of homelessness and are worsened by experiences of social isolation, stigmatization, and violence on the streets.

Housing First programs are designed to acknowledge trauma and provide supportive services that help people recover from those traumas including behavioral health services, substance abuse treatment, legal services, case management, goal setting, and independent living skills.

4. Individualized and Participant-Driven Supports

Housing First programs do not use a one size fits all approach. Each person’s needs, strengths, and motivation are unique to them. Instead of requiring all participants to engage in a set of standard supportive services, Housing First programs offer a menu of services tailored specifically to the goals and needs of each participant, providing encouragement and support to help them succeed.

5. Social and Community Integration

Shame, isolation, and stigma result in social isolation and disconnect people experiencing homelessness from the larger community. Housing First programs help participants re-connect to positive social and community engagement. Housing services are provided within neighborhoods throughout the City and support participants as they connect with neighbors, employment, and recreational activities – all of which are important aspects of community connectedness and well-being.

Contact Us

Contact Information

310 N Commerce Park Loop
Tucson, AZ 85745

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 27210
Tucson, AZ 85726-7210
Phone: (520) 791-4171
Fax: (520) 791-5407