Housing First, relationship second.

Housing First prioritises getting people who are labelled as having ‘complex needs’ into stable housing, on the basis that it will be more feasible to address any other issues once someone has the stability of a long-term home. It’s a global movement and the evidence is strong that it works better than alternatives, despite it discarding the ‘jump through hoops’ traditional approach. People are more likely to maintain their tenancy, reduce substance misuse, avoid reoffending and have improved mental health. The evidence is so strong that it should be the default response, as it is in other countries, but in England, Crisis found only short-term pilots, able to reach 350 people at any one time. It’s not clear that all of these follow the full Housing First model, which involves an open-ended offer of housing (which Crisis notes a pilot cannot do). It’s also not clear why an approach which is demonstrably more cost-effective, breaking a cycle of crisis and use of expensive crisis services, and in many cases helping people to move away from support services entirely, has not replaced approaches which don’t work as well.

In my Housing Day blog, I ask why Housing First is still little more than a pilot in the UK, when it’s core business elsewhere in the world. I also ask what it would look like if we followed Housing First’s rights-based ethos to its conclusion

“We would aim to offer housing not just to those in the deepest crisis, but to avert those crises. We would ensure that the support and housing which was offered did not slip back into being service-led and infantilising once people had accessed it, but embedded strengths-based thinking at every level. And we would see that a roof may be the first thing we all need to have any hope of living safely and well, but it’s not the only thing. What turns a house into our home is the life we are able to live and the relationships we form from there.” Read the full blog here: https://maydaytrust.org.uk/housing-first-relationships-second/

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