Critical Time Intervention: from homelessness to hotels and beyond

Monday, 22 June 2020 - 5:51pm

With around 15,000 people in emergency Covid accommodation across England, the question now is what happens beyond the pandemic and how are we able to achieve #EveryoneInForGood? Learning from the US suggests that Critical Time Intervention (CTI) is one part of the answer.

Homeless Link’s #EveryoneInForGood campaign calls for urgent national and local action so that nobody is forced to sleep rough after lockdown.  There are three key principles:

1. Nobody returns or is new to the streets

2. Everybody receives support to keep their accommodation

3. No return to business as usual

It is clear that a significant number of people currently accommodated in hotels or similar emergency housing settings are at risk of returning to the streets unless there is a plan to support a transition to appropriate accommodation, and the word ‘appropriate’ is crucial here.  People who experience homelessness and multiple disadvantage are not a homogenous group and it is essential that we consider this when looking at routes out of hotels and into more stable housing options.

For some people, a Housing First approach may be appropriate, but others will be moving to a diverse range of housing and/or support options. It is crucial that this transition is managed well to ensure that, following the initial move, nobody later returns to the streets.

Critical Time Intervention (CTI) is an evidenced-based model that helps vulnerable people during times of transition to strengthen their network of support in the community.  CTI may be appropriate for a person who has previously been homeless, is now able to move into more stable accommodation, and requires a community integration approach.

For someone currently staying in a hotel, CTI support could help during the transition through a structured three-phase nine-month intervention:

  • Phase 1 would begin at the point of transition, where the individual moves out of their emergency housing placement into more stable housing that is appropriate for their needs. The main focus of the CTI worker is to build the support network, by both strengthening existing relationships and identifying new members., This could range from statutory and non-statutory services, the voluntary and faith-based sector, to family friends and other members of the community. 
  • In Phase 2 the intensity of support from the CTI worker begins to reduce and the individual is encouraged to have more direct contact with their support network, as well as the support network having more contact with one another (where appropriate to do so).  
  • At the 6-month point, Phase 3 begins; this is the final phase where contact with the individual is very limited.  Energy is focussed on ensuring the support network is strongly in place with good communication, problem-solving and wellness and safety plans. It is during this phase, that time is taken to bring the relationship to an end, with the case closing at the 9-month point.

CTI is a relatively new model to the UK but the evidence from the USA is very positive for certain groups. CTI could be one intervention to support our aspirations for #EveryoneInForGood so that nobody will return to homelessness now or in the future.

For more information on CTI:

1. Sign-up to our webinar on 25th June

2. Join our Rough Sleepers conference on 8th and 9th July

3. Visit

4. Contact


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Alex Smith

Project Manager for Housing First

Alex Smith is the Project Manager for Housing First.