Changing Lives is leading a partnership of eight organisations England-wide to look at the successes and challenges of the initial Housing First pilots and make recommendations for the integration of Housing First in homelessness service systems.
The University of York is conducting the research, led by one of the leading academics on Housing First in Europe, Nicholas Pleace. The research is funded by the Homeless Transition Fund, the GLA and Brighton and Hove City Council. SITRA also brings additional expertise to the steering group.
The research is now underway and will be completed by February 2015, when it will be published and launched through dissemination events. Brighton Housing First has recently joined the partnership, further expanding the scope of the study.
The Housing First model was developed in the United States and has demonstrated high degrees of success in both housing and supporting those who are chronically street homeless with multiple and complex needs. In the UK the first Housing First pilot was set up in Glasgow in 2010, followed by pilots in London and Newcastle in early 2012.
Housing First provides permanent accommodation for people straight from the street or those who have experienced repeated homelessness.
Changing Lives’ Housing First project has had significant success in housing people who were stuck in a cycle of rough sleeping, sofa surfing, hostels, prison and sometimes hospital. The project has supported 49 clients to secure their own tenancy (in the private rented sector), 38 of whom were accommodated directly from rough sleeping. The vast majority of clients with a history of substance misuse issues agreed that securing a tenancy had either helped them maintain abstinence or maintain their prescribed level of medication. All participating clients for whom offending had been an issue prior to securing a tenancy reported that they had either desisted from offending or had significantly reduced their offending – with the majority stating this was as a direct result of securing a tenancy.
One couple, with a long history of rough sleeping, did not previously feel that securing a private tenancy was achievable as they thought their history would be an issue: