Social Housing Speed Read – Housing First
5th June, 2017
This week we look at what Housing First is and why there are calls on social landlords to provide it.
Housing First aims to provide a permanent offer of housing coupled with ongoing support to those with complex needs and repeat histories of homelessness. The ultimate focus of Housing First is to keep individuals housed and enable them to begin the road to recovery/stability.
Traditional homelessness models are usually progressive in that they offer a series of accommodation and support services until individuals are deemed ready for housing.
However, with Housing First the individual only has to show they are willing to keep a tenancy.
The concept of Housing First was first developed in America and has since achieved increasing popularity in Canada and Europe.
International statistics show the programme to be a success with 70-90% of Housing First residents keeping their accommodation and improving other areas of their lives.
Call on Social Landlords
Homeless Link (the national membership body for the homelessness) has recently published guidance for social landlords explaining more about Housing First and the benefit for landlords.
The chief executive of the charity, Rick Henderson, is calling for registered providers to “support the growth of Housing First and its positive outcomes for individuals”.
The charity states that for Housing First social housing is preferable to private sector rented housing but at present only 50% of Housing First projects have access to social housing.
Jo Prestidge, innovation and good practice project manager at Housing Link, believes there is a “moral argument” for associations to consider getting involved.
She considers Housing First to be about addressing needs such as poverty and helping the most vulnerable questioning “isn’t that why housing associations were set up?”
The guide sets out two types of provider: general needs providers (those that do not provide supported housing) and those that already provide supported housing.
General needs providers can offer either accommodation to a service that has already been set up or choose to work with local councils or other providers to set up a new service.
If a provider already provides supported housing then they can set up their own service and source funding or fund from their own internal resources.
Mushtaq Khan, director of commercial partnerships at New Charter, stated that other providers may want to consider Housing First as it achieved results with “probably the most difficult client group”.
He thinks there will be development to “a Housing First programme at regional level”.
After Andy Burham’s election as Greater Manchester mayor and his commitment to reducing homelessness, Manchester housing providers have been committing to providing homes for the programme.
The programme has also some backing within the current political climate. The Conservatives have pledged to pilot Housing First and the Liberal Democrats believe every council should have at least one Housing First programme.
We could therefore be hearing a lot more about Housing First going forward depending on who wins the election later this week.
You can find a copy of the guidance released by Housing First by clicking here.
If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect social housing providers, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact John Murray or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.
Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
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