Introduction to Housing First for Youth

II. Core Principles of HF4Y

Training Introduction

Core principles guide the planning and delivering of a strategy, service or program. Core principles can also be used to evaluate how well a program is operating according to a standard.

Learning objectives
  • List the five core principles of the HF4Y program model.
  • Describe how the core principles can be put into practice within a housing-led support program for youth experiencing homelessness.
  • Identify two basic conditions that are an essential part of any HF4Y program.
  • Recognize the relationship between personal values and beliefs and application of core principles.

Youth Homelessness video

What comes to mind as you watched the video? Do you think the portrayal is realistic in showing how a youth might become homeless? How does this view compare with news stories you have seen about homeless youth? What about some of the ways homeless youth are portrayed in movies or on TV?


What Do You Think?

You may be familiar with some common social narratives about people who are homeless such as ‘they are lazy’ or ‘they are all alcoholics.’ Even when we are consciously working to banish negative stereotypes, change can be challenging. These views often reflect deeply held core beliefs that we may not be consciously aware of.

To what extent do you think the general public agree with the following statements?

  • If we ‘rescue’ youth from homelessness, they won’t learn to be accountable.
  • Too many homeless youth are lazy. They should get a job and stop looking for handouts.
  • Street youth are all delinquents and drug addicts. It’s no wonder their parents kicked them out in the first place.
  • I generally keep my distance from homeless youth on the street because they’re mentally ill and could be violent.

How easy or difficult is it to change these ideas about homeless youth? An example of a conflict of values related to housing and homelessness might include holding two opposing core beliefs such as:

  • All people have the right to have access to the resources, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living. 
  • The road to success comes through hard work, determination, and personal sacrifice. 
  • Core principles are important because they can act as a guide for planning and delivery of HF4Y programs. Core principles can also be used to evaluate how closely a program is operating in accordance with the HF4Y program model.


The HF4Y core principles have been adapted from the adult Housing First model to reflect the unique needs of developing adolescents and young adults. They are:

  • A Right to housing with no preconditions
  • Youth choice, youth voice and self-determination
  • Positive youth development and wellness orientation
  • Individualized, client-driven supports with no time limits
  • Social inclusion and community integration

It is important to challenge our values because they often direct our actions. As you reflect on your answers, consider how your views may impact how you approach work in the housing and homeless-serving sector.

Try it Yourself

Before we look at the core principles in detail, try the self-assessment survey below. The purpose is to help you reflect on your core beliefs as they relate to people experiencing homelessness. It is not intended to be a formal assessment of character.


Next, we'll review the HF4Y core principles in detail.