New CIH guide makes case for exploring Housing First approach to tackling homelessness

housing health homelessness stockA new publication from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) explores the concept of Housing First and the principles behind it and looks at how it is being put into practice across the UK and Ireland as a one of a range of approaches to tackling homelessness.

Housing First offers permanent accommodation to people in chronic need without requiring them to go through the formal homelessness system of waiting lists, hostels and temporary accommodation. Housing First tends to be directed at people who are sleeping rough or have experienced repeat homelessness and have mental health and addiction problems.

Under Housing First, there is no requirement for the homeless person to be “housing ready” or to have addressed their addiction problems before moving into a permanent home. Health and addiction issues are addressed after housing has been secured, and intensive, open-ended support is provided to help the person to maintain their tenancy.

Entitled ‘Housing First in the UK and Ireland’, the new CIH publication includes analysis and case studies of Housing First in practice across Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Wales and England.

CIH Scotland new logoThe Scotland chapter of the publication considers the first Housing First project to be piloted in the UK, a project developed by Turning Point Scotland (TPS) in response to high levels of repeat homelessness amongst people with substance misuse issues in Glasgow, which ran from October 2010 to September 2013. It also outlines a new funding model which aims to support the expansion of Housing First across Scotland and eventually the rest of the UK.

Funded by the Scottish Government and working in partnership with Social Investment Scotland and Heriot-Watt University, the Glasgow Homelessness Network is developing the Housing First Transition Fund. Set to be piloted in 2018, the fund will provide advice and loan funding to leading social landlords and homelessness organisations to support the transition to Housing First by acquiring homes on the open market to replace hostel accommodation.

Commenting on the new publication, CIH Scotland policy and practice manager, Ashley Campbell, said: “To date, the implementation of Housing First across the UK has been relatively small scale. But this new guide demonstrates that, where Housing First has been adopted, there is strong evidence of positive outcomes in terms of improved physical and mental health and reduced substance misuse.

“Here in Scotland, there is a growing recognition that it can be very difficult to help homeless people with complex needs within the confines of the traditional homeless system, leading to repeat homelessness for some people and others falling off the radar altogether.”

Ashley Campbell added: “In this context, as the analysis and case studies in this new publication show, Housing First could offer a successful alternative solution where existing systems are not working.”

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