Housing First is a real attempt at system change, and we are proud to be leading the way alongside our delivery partners.
Housing First provides ordinary, settled housing as the first response for people with multiple and complex needs beyond housing. This includes people whose range of life experiences include childhood and early years trauma, domestic abuse, mental ill health, addictions as well as time spent in local authority care or prison.
Their experience of homelessness may be long-lasting or repeating, and may include periods of rough sleeping and the use of congregate accommodation options such as shelters, hostels and B&B.
Housing First is not just about accommodation. Alongside a tenancy, easy access to personalised and resilient support is provided to each tenant in a self-directed manner. This means that each person accessing Housing First is able to work with us to identify what that support might look like.
Permanent housing is often offered as a last response to homelessness, which creates a situation where individuals need to access certain support or services to work through different aspects of their life before having somewhere to call home. This is an informal but stubborn practice sometimes described as ‘tenancy readiness’. This means living to a different set of rules than the rest of us, without a place to call home as a base to build and live their lives. When we consider the existing structural, social and economic disadvantage – and other issues to contend with – it becomes clearer why some people’s homelessness is harder to end.
Housing First flips this system on its head and challenging the idea of being ‘ready’ for a tenancy by working with people to ensure they are safe, and supported towards a healthier more stable lifestyle.
We initially worked with partners across the sector in Edinburgh to deliver the Housing First Edinburgh pathfinder in 2019-20, with great success. We are now working with local councils in West Lothian and the Borders to deliver Housing First projects across those areas.