Housing First delivers ‘whole new life’ for long term homeless in Glasgow

James Kingsman in his new flat in Glasgow

Fifty-four long term homeless people in Glasgow have been handed the keys to “a whole new life” thanks to a Housing First approach to addressing homelessness.

The Housing First initiative is a rapid rehousing approach to tackling homelessness amongst people with complex needs such as mental health or addiction issues.

It was pioneered in Europe and the US and turns conventional homelessness practice on its head. Previously people were supported to tackle complex needs in a bid to become “tenancy ready”.

New thinking concludes that housing should be provided rapidly and be supplemented by intensive support to address wider health issues and tenancy longevity.

Glasgow’s Health & Social Care Partnership (GHSCP) is working with partners including Wheatley Group, the Salvation Army and Social Bite to reduce the length of time people spend in temporary accommodation and provide rapid rehousing via mainstream tenancies as part of the new Housing First approach.

Thirty-five year-old James Kingsman is one of the first in the city to secure a new home under the Housing First initiative for people with complex needs.

James, who has been homeless on and off since the age of 16, describes his past life as “horrific and hopeless” but after years of chaos and tragedy - he now has a chance of happiness and a settled life in his new flat.

James has spent years in and out of homeless units and hostels. Bereavement has twice caused him to lose homes following the sad deaths of his husband, John, in 2010 and his mum, Dorothy, five years later.

He is a former resident of Glasgow’s Clyde Place homeless unit which shut in August as part of the city’s new approach to homelessness.

Intensive support aims to ensure Housing First tenants get to grips with skills required to run a home, such as liaising with utility companies and paying bills.

GCHSCP has contracted the Salvation Army to provide support which also covers assistance with accessing health services, further education, training and employment opportunities.

Councillor Mhairi Hunter, chair of GCHSCP’s Joint Integration Board, said: “People can find themselves homeless for numerous different reasons including health issues, relationship breakdowns and personal tragedies.

“When people are at their lowest, they need our help most. Housing First is a rapid rehousing approach to help people with complex needs rebuild their lives. It is radically different to the traditional approach to helping this vulnerable group and is now being rolled out across Scotland.

“I’m delighted to hear how it has benefited James. I congratulate him on this personal milestone and wish him a long and happy future in his new home.”

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