Housing First fund takes ‘significant step’ with first wave of new support

Josh Littlejohn MBE launching last year’s sleep out event

Five projects that will aim to help hundreds of homeless people across five cities in Scotland off the streets and into a secure tenancy with support have been awarded the first wave of support from the Housing First Scotland Fund.

Social enterprise Social Bite is providing funding through money that was raised through its Sleep in the Park events, and from the Merchants House of Glasgow as well as other fundraisers.

Up to 800 houses have been pledged by a variety of housing associations and local councils to the programme, which will be delivered in partnership with Corra Foundation and The Glasgow Homelessness Network. Projects will also be supported through expert training in a new model of supporting vulnerable people, delivered by Turning Point Scotland.

The Housing First model is based around a home being the best foundation from which to address any other challenges people face. It aims to provide safety and security, and a fresh opportunity for people to build and live their lives as part of a community.

The Housing First Scotland Fund was launched earlier this year and represents the biggest adoption of the Housing First model in Europe. This first set of projects will be funded until 2021 across Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Aberdeen and Dundee with the aim of supporting just over 200 people. The ultimate ambition of the programme is to support 800 people out of homelessness for good.

The funded programmes in each location are:

1) Housing First Glasgow led by Turning Point Scotland with a consortium comprised of Simon Community Scotland, The Salvation Army and Loretto Care (£900,000)

2) Housing First Edinburgh led by Edinburgh Cyrenians with a consortium comprised of Turning Point Scotland, Rock Trust, Streetwork, Bethany Christian Trust, Gowrie Care and Barony Care (£650,000).

3) Housing First Dundee led by Transform Community Development with a consortium comprised of Salvation Army Dundee, Dundee Survival Group (DSG) and Addaction (£400,000)

4) Housing First Aberdeen led by Aberdeen Cyrenians with a consortium comprised of Aberdeen Foyer, Turning Point Scotland, Aberdeen City Council Housing Support Department and Aberdeenshire Council (£400,000)

5) Housing First Stirling led by Loretto Care with Barony Care offering support (£100,000)

Social Bite founder, Josh Littlejohn, said: “It is fantastic to see the Housing First programme reach this stage of awarding funds to local homelessness charities so that they can deliver the comprehensive support that many vulnerable people need to sustain a tenancy and break the cycle of homelessness.

“It is a major milestone in the fight against homelessness and I hope it will make a massive difference to Scotland’s most excluded people, many of whom have suffered from homelessness for years. This programme was only made possible by the 8,000 people who slept out for us last December, I would like to thank each and every one of them, and encourage people to join our Sleep in the Park events this year.”

Merchants House of Glasgow Lord Dean of Guild, Ian Dickson, said: “The Merchants House of Glasgow is delighted to be supporting and contributing funding to this important programme. Homelessness is a significant challenge within Glasgow. The Housing First Initiative represents a paradigm shift in addressing that challenge and we were keen to take a leading role in Glasgow through our Social Impact Partnership. We look forward to seeing the impact of the projects announced today.”

It is hoped that the projects will act as ‘pathfinders’, paving the way for Housing First to become the default model for addressing homelessness for vulnerable people with complex needs across Scotland. The model is based on a set of internationally recognised principles, including that: people have a right to a home; that people have choice and control; and that services are based on people’s strengths, goals and aspirations.

Corra Foundation CEO, Fiona Duncan, said: “It’s a real privilege to be involved in delivering this fund. We believe it will make a real difference to people in the immediate future, as well as having a lasting impact on the way homeless people are supported in Scotland.”

Kevin Stewart, MSP minister for local government, housing and planning, added: “We want to ensure everyone has a safe place they can call home. This is a significant step forward for the Social Bite Housing First Programme and towards helping people with complex needs to move quickly into permanent homes with the support they need to sustain a tenancy.

“To consolidate and support that, we are working closely with councils to ensure that this work is integrated into broader plans to implement the recommendations of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, to prevent homelessness and strengthen the help for those who need it most. To this end we have already committed up to £4 million from the £50 million Ending Homelessness Together Fund to support councils in the participating five cities.”