Housing First practitioners from all over Europe gathered in Brussels last week to talk ‘all things’ Housing First and attend the launch of the Housing First Europe Guide.
Housing First is not only breaking new ground in the UK, but is creating momentum throughout Europe. Country after country are seeing that it shows efficiency and effectiveness wherever it gets implemented, as well as cost effectiveness against traditional homeless services.
There were some Housing ‘superstars’ in attendance – Sam Tsemberis, the founder of the New York Pathways to Housing program which launched Housing First, and Peter Frederiksson, a Finnish Senior Civil servant who has been credited with ending homelessness in Finland using a Housing First approach, both spoke. We also heard from Canada where over 1000 people have been housed through Housing First in a large scale programme. Lessons learned on scaling up across a large nation were fascinating and pertinent for us in Manchester as we consider how Housing First can be implemented across a wider geographical area with a higher volume of clients. I was encouraged that a key factor to any large scale implementation was considered to be the role of those with lived experience.
One challenge facing delegates was how far adaptation for local contexts could be made whilst remaining true to the principles of the model. The Housing First Europe Guide should help with this. It is a comprehensive toolkit on Housing First with text, quizzes and videos giving practical guidance, bringing together existing knowledge and experience on running Housing First in European contexts. The Guide is the first European resource of its kind and was written by Nicholas Pleace, the Senior Research Fellow from York University’s Centre of Housing Policy who is leading on evaluation for our pilot.
It was a packed couple of days. Themes around affordability, quality, and lack of accommodation and stigmatisation of homeless people were recognised across all delegates. One solution does not fit all, but the sharing of good ideas stimulated plans and ideas for us in Manchester. Watch this space!
Housing First Europe Guide link is here