Inspiring Change Manchester is excited to be piloting Housing First in Manchester for our clients. Housing First ends homelessness for those with high support needs who have experienced recurrent homelessness by offering permanent accommodation together with personalised wrap-around support to help sustain the tenancy..
Until now, a ‘stepped approach’ has required tenants to progress through different types of accommodation- from hostels to shared accommodation and beyond – before being awarded their own tenancy, if they can comply with certain terms and conditions.
Housing First gives that permanent home straight away.
It uses a harm reduction rather than abstinence approach. It does not penalise clients who struggle to stop drinking or using drugs (although clients are strongly encouraged to reduce their intake in these areas). Clients are treated as any other tenant; tenancies are lost for the same reasons that any tenancy would fail. A Housing First tenant becomes indistinguishable from any other tenant. And these are clients who may have never held a tenancy successfully or who have been street homeless for decades.
We’re excited because this approach has been used and extensively evaluated across the world – and it works. 80-90% of clients housed through Housing First are still housed 12 months later – as opposed to around 40% from a stepped approach. The programme has been shown to work in countries with low levels of homelessness and a large welfare state (eg, Denmark) and those where homeless rates are high and the state support is minimal (eg, Portugal). Housing First is the National Response to homelessness in a number of countries including France, Finland and the USA. In the UK, successful projects are already working in Glasgow, Newcastle and London, where the housing markets differ widely.
The question we are testing is – could it work here in Manchester?
A strong cross-sector project team has been formed (see our photo at the top!) and Housing First will go live from 1st April 2016 We are hoping to use properties in the private and social sector, and clients will start to be identified in the next couple of months.
If you would like to know any more please contact me in the ICM Programme Team – firstname.lastname@example.org tel:0791 704 6534.
UPDATE January 2018 – you can read more about the Housing First Pilot, and see the interim reports in in this blog.