Abstract: Several municipalities in Norway have tried the Housing First model to facilitate permanent housing for homeless people with substance abuse problems and/or mental illness. This article discusses users’ experiences from receiving social support as part of the Housing First programme. In particular, the article discusses the users’ experiences with the model’s emphasis on users’ choice and self-determination. The analysis shows that what the programs practise is not entirely freedom of choice for the participants but a greater respect of the users’ knowledge, perspectives, and opinions as a starting point for interventions. The analysis shows that participants and staff engage in joint reflection work to help the participants take more reflected decisions in their life. The article discusses how this method can contribute to overcome a diagnostic approach to marginalised and often stigmatised users and provide more personalised and effective services. The discussions draw on data from an evaluation of two trial projects of the Housing First model. The article is mainly based on an analysis of 16 qualitative interviews with users that participated in the projects.
Keywords: drug problems; homelessness; Housing First; mental illness; Nordic model; user experience; user participation; welfare state