Since 2017, we’ve been working with St Mungo's to provide the Housing First service, to help support and accommodate people with complex needs, including:
- experience of entrenched rough sleeping
- a history of failed previous accommodation placements
- a history of struggling to engage with support.
Tackling rough sleeping
Housing First provides stable, self-contained housing and personalised support to people with complex needs who have slept rough. We take a non-traditional approach providing the housing first, without the conditions around "housing readiness".
Giving clients a say in their support
Our support is made for the individual working with what they are good at and enjoy, rather than focusing on the problems or difficulties in their life. Housing First’s workers arrange support with other services to provide a package that helps with the range of needs experienced by the individual.
Clients are consulted consistently throughout the process and invited to give feedback on both what is working well as well as areas for improvement.
The service targets the people entrenched in rough sleeping, who have been sleeping out for months if not years. They will have often experienced repeat homelessness, where after some respite the person returns to the streets. Housing First can help to break this distressing cycle.
Strengths and limitations
Housing First is:
To allow the service to focus on the best solution at a pace that suits the individual, support is unconditional and available to clients for as long as it’s needed.
It offers a genuine alternative to traditional services that have failed or may not have worked for the individual.
Housing First is not for everyone. For example, some people will find that living alone in self-contained accommodation quite lonely and would not suit them.
Not everyone who has slept rough needs this level of intervention and may benefit more from traditional services.
Differences from other homelessness pathways
The key difference is the focus on the relationship between the client and their worker. As the support is unconditional, there is a commitment to "not give up" on an individual. The client will have a worker they know they can speak with over a longer period.
Support and housing are not connected and there are no requirements for clients to engage with other services, for example drug and alcohol treatments.
Workers will support access to appropriate services, if the individual wants to try and empower the client to make their own choices. Usually, the Housing First worker will be the main point of contacts so that the client does not have to repeat their story to different services.
Housing First does not replace other homelessness support
Housing First should be offered as an option alongside other pathways; this service does not operate a waiting list.
When there’s a vacancy, the next most appropriate client is identified in a multi-agency meeting.
Partner services then agree who would most benefit from the service, ensuring the referral process is transparent and fair.
Why this is effective
Housing First offers something different to the support clients have used previously, it puts housing at the front of the solution.
Over time, and with the right support, recovery can and will happen and we acknowledge that this time will vary and look different for everyone.