Housing First is an approach based on seven principles to meet the needs of the most complex homelessness cases. Although this is not a new tactic to tackle homelessness, it has received sizable amounts from the Government to encourage the pilots to roll out.
What are the principles?
People have a right to a home;
Flexible support is provided for as long as it is needed;
Housing and support are separated;
Individuals have choice and control;
An active engagement approach is used;
The service is based on people’s strengths, goals, and aspirations; and
A harm reduction approach is used.
Why is it good?
Although this style is expensive, it is the most suitable method of rebuilding lives. It is ideal for those who have been on the streets for a long time, those who have found themselves in and out of housing, and those who have mental or emotional health needs, are alcohol or drug dependent, or experience domestic abuse.
Unlike other housing routes, the applicant does not have to be tenancy ready before getting housing. As intensive support is given from the moment that they have been allocated a home. This support is ongoing and flexible so that it can offer the tenant the best chance possible. For those who would normally fall through the gaps because they have addictions or mental health needs, a chance to improve their lives is on offer.
Housing First workers usually have a caseload of only 5 -7 people, which allows them to be fully involved in the tenant's life. Even if the first support plan does not work, the tenant remains stable in their home. This can be difficult for many people with addictions as they are often offered a place to live that does not allow alcohol. Having to sign a contract stating that they will breach their tenancy if they partake in it, their home is at risk. Housing First recognises that homeless people build these addictions to cope with life on the street. They are aware that they cannot combat difficulties until they live in stable accommodation with support and understanding rather than threats of losing their home.