Invest in Housing First to keep people off the streets for good

Wednesday, 10 June 2020 - 1:41pm

Housing First is a proven approach to ending homelessness for people facing multiple and complex disadvantage, many of whom may currently be living in hotels with little sense of where they will go next. Ensuring that Housing First is available to those who need it must be a crucial part of national and local plans in the post-lockdown phase of COVID-19.

Homeless Link’s #EveryoneInForGood campaign has called on government to seize the opportunity to renew their approach to tackling homelessness and ensure that nobody must return to the streets as the Coronavirus lockdown ends. We have also laid out guidance for local authorities on how to effectively transition from hotels to Housing First, even in areas without pre-existing Housing First provision. 

Placing Housing First at the heart of national and local post-lockdown plans offers the best chance to support people experiencing multiple disadvantage, whose homelessness is compounded by issues such as mental health difficulties or substance dependence, off the streets for good. With the Government plans to provide safe housing to those currently in hotels and roll out 6,000 new supported units already in motion, this should be achievable.  

In recent years, the number of Housing First projects has steadily increased across England. As the hosts of Housing First England, we’ve seen how local areas have achieved inspiring outcomes with people for whom little else has worked. Despite this, in much of the country this support remains unavailable or inadequate relative to the scale of need. 

At Homeless Link our position is clear. A range of options are needed to meet the diverse support needs of those who experience homelessness. However, a national scale-up of Housing First is an absolute requirement if we hope to provide those facing complex and multiple disadvantage the opportunity to leave homelessness for good.  

We call on the Government to: 

  • Commit long-term funding for the support services needed to enable 16,500 Housing First tenancies over the current Government term. Government should drive the Housing First agenda by making a long-term cross-departmental commitment to fund support for those receiving a Housing First offer, as part of a longer-term commitment to revenue funding for homelessness support services. This will give many more social landlords the assurance needed to work with Housing First and encourage local authorities to embed high-fidelity provision. 
  • Ensure there is a supply of suitable homes to meet the demand for Housing First and wider provision to tackle homelessness. This should include funding commitments to rapidly increase the supply of social housing and access to the private rented sector, as well as making essential reforms to the welfare system. 

We call on local authorities to: 

  • Commit to providing an offer of Housing First support for the people who need it in their areas, including those currently living in emergency accommodation as a result of COVID-19.  
  • Ensure that their allocations eligibility criteria do not create a barrier to accessing an affordable home. 
  • Learn from the wealth of experience that exists already in England by visiting the Housing First England website: www.hfe.homeless.org.uk 

Webinar for local authorities

If you are a local authority or decision-maker thinking about how Housing First might work for your area, please join us for a webinar on Thursday, 2nd July, where you can learn more and hear from two local authorities that have been commissioning Housing First for several years. 

If you need any further information or wish to discuss your plans, please email jennie.corbett@homelesslink.org.uk or joanne.prestidge@homelesslink.org.uk

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Jo Prestidge

Innovation and good practice project manager

Jo is an innovation and good practice project manager, leading a range of projects and training including Housing First England and Trauma Informed Care.