“You can’t do Housing First to people.” How the second evaluation of the Housing First regional pilots shows the importance of choice and co-production
Blog posted by: Alex Smith, Thursday, 29 July 2021.
“You can’t do Housing First to people.” This mantra, asserted by one of the providers of the three Housing First regional pilots in England, echoes throughout the latest evaluation report of the schemes, showing the importance of choice and co-production in effective Housing First services.
People with lived experience are at the heart of Housing First, and for the first time the evaluation has had the opportunity to engage with 29 participants across the three pilot areas (Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and the West Midlands) painting a powerful picture of the impact of the Housing First approach.
The report, published by MHCLG, shows the pilots have supported an incredible 904 people to date. There is often an assumption with Housing First that housing is the most important element, and that people offered a Housing First approach will be immediately responsive. However, we see through the report the importance that relationships play and of staff being ‘trustworthy, non-judgemental and empathetic’ towards people who have felt previously let down by services.
Further to this, it’s important to note that the first home provided does not always work out, with participants sharing that their second property was often more suited to them, showing the need to embrace the principle that it is an offer of housing that is permanent.
Overall, 534 people have been housed across the pilots with a tenancy sustainment of 87%. A breakdown of the amount time people have spent in their tenancy so far shows how it can take time to find the right property for someone:
- 148 people between 6-12 months
- 149 people between 12-24 months
- 26 people between 24-36 months
- 1 person over 36 months
The housing outcomes are in-line with international evidence on tenancy sustainment, showing again how effective Housing First is at supporting people to remain housed. However, it’s worth noting that 123 people have exited the programme for a number of reasons. These are wide ranging and show the complexity of those being supported; withdrawing consent, imprisonment, moving away or to alternative accommodation, accessing detox treatment, losing contact and sadly, for 33 people on the programme, passing away. As yet, no exits were ‘positive’ graduations from the service; highlighting how central the principle of ‘support for as long as it is needed’ is to successful Housing First delivery.
The benefits of Housing First reach further than tenancy sustainment and evidence from the pilots continues to support the Centre for Social Justice Close to Home calls for multi-agency commissioning of Housing First, seeing it as much as a health intervention as it is a solution to end rough sleeping.
Beyond the housing figures lie some inspiring outcomes for individuals, including maintaining substitute prescribing and reducing illicit drug-use, improved health and regular attendance at G.P and re-establishing connections with friends and family; including children who were estranged or in care. As Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said at a recent event discussing the pilots, “Housing First is one of the most successful health policies I’ve ever seen.”
The picture from the pilots is clearly a positive one. But there’s uncertainty around the corner with the current funding due to end next year and, as yet, no guarantees from Government about continuation or further expansion across England. As such, we will continue to call on Government to provide long-term funding for the three regions as well as other service . As the Conservative Mayor for the West Midlands Andy Street recently said, “in years to come I hope we won’t be talking about Finland, but what we have done in Greater Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands.”
The message from the pilots is simple:
“Continue. Fund it. It works.”
Latest News from
Slow but determined change: Facing up to non-UK national homelessness14/01/2022 11:10:00
Blog posted by: Jennie Corbett Thursday, 13 January 2022.
Now is the time to talk to your council about their RSI funding plans11/01/2022 15:20:00
Local Authorities are currently developing plans that will shape homelessness services for the next three years.
Why we need to work together to spread the word about StreetLink23/12/2021 16:10:00
Our new survey found two thirds of adults wouldn’t feel confident in knowing the best way to help some sleeping rough. Raising awareness of StreetLink can change this.
As overnight temperatures drop below freezing, a new survey reveals that two thirds of UK adults don’t feel confident in knowing how to help someone sleeping rough23/12/2021 15:10:00
A new survey by StreetLink has revealed that 64% of adults wouldn't feel confident in knowing the best way to help someone sleeping rough.
Homeless Link welcomes Protect and Vaccinate funding for people facing homelessness21/12/2021 11:10:00
A new £28m fund, announced by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, will help people experiencing rough sleeping access Covid-19 vaccinations and move into safe accommodation.
Omicron preparedness in homelessness settings20/12/2021 09:25:00
The worrying rise to date of the new Omicron variant is creating another perfect storm for providers of homelessness services this winter.
Homeless Link on the Advisory Panel for the Rough Sleeping Support Service Review15/12/2021 10:20:00
On behalf of our members, Homeless Link has agreed to contribute to the Review and sit on the Advisory Panel, alongside representatives of government, local authorities, the migration and homelessness sectors.
Homeless Link responds to year on year homeless deaths statistics falling for the first time since 201401/12/2021 15:20:00
Homeless Link responds to new ONS statistics showing the first year on year fall in homeless deaths since 2014.