MPs join calls to save homelessness programmes from funding cliff edge

• Pilots in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and West Midlands Combined Authority provide up to 1,100 housing places but funding is set to end from 2022.
• APPG on Ending Homelessness urges UK government to commit to prioritising funding for the scheme in Autumn spending review.

MPs have urged the UK government to prevent three ground-breaking homelessness programmes being forced to close, despite a combined success rate of 88%. (1)

Housing First pilot programmes in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and West Midlands Combined Authority provide up to 1,100 places for people facing homelessness but their funding is set to end from 2022.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Ending Homelessness is urging the UK government to commit to continue funding the programmes in the Autumn spending review.

Without further funding, over a thousand people could be forced into rough sleeping and homelessness, undermining the Government’s commitment to end rough sleeping by 2024.

Unlike other homelessness programmes, Housing First does not require people to prove they are ‘tenancy ready’ before accessing mainstream housing. That means they do not have to first move up through different types of temporary and supported accommodation and agree to any suggested treatment before moving into a more long-term home. Instead, once housed they are given open-ended support with their multiple issues relating to trauma, mental health, addiction and entrenched rough sleeping. In 2019 the Conservative Party pledged to end rough sleeping through programmes like Housing First.

The APPG for Ending Homelessness has today published a report following an extensive and unique inquiry into rolling out Housing First in England, given the success of the three city region pilots and based on the testimonies of 65 people who have benefited from the scheme. It follows a joint letter from leading homelessness charities to the UK government on the issue. For many of the 65 people who contributed to the report, their lived experience of Housing First has been life changing. As one contributor said:

“With the help of my Housing First support worker I was able to address the problems I faced, I got help with my mental health and got clean from all drugs…I honestly believe if I wasn’t introduced to… Housing First and this program I wouldn’t be here to tell any story.”

Neil Coyle MP and Bob Blackman MP, co-chairs of the APPG on Ending Homelessness, said: “The last year has underlined how fundamental a safe and secure home is to everyone.

“37,000 people in England facing homelessness were provided emergency accommodation during the pandemic, including many who had not engaged in services in a long time. We must build on that success and Housing First is the next step.

“Housing First supports people with the most challenging issues and is already working in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and the West Midlands. But as it stands, funding for those pilots will end from next year. We must not turn our backs on the progress made and the people supported.

“We urge the UK government to commit to funding the three pilots beyond 2022 and start scaling up Housing First across England to help fulfill its pledge to end rough sleeping by 2024.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Housing First works. For people with higher support needs, including those who have been stuck in homelessness for years, it provides a solid foundation from which they can address any trauma, addiction and mental health issues they may face.

“Evidence from these three city regions and around the world shows that Housing First is the most effective approach to ending the homelessness of people with complex needs.

“It is unthinkable that the pilots could be stopped from providing that vital support to over a thousand people. Now is the time to expand Housing First across England and make it accessible to more people, not fewer.”

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

(1) By September 2020, collectively the three Housing First pilots had housed 450 people, with 88% of clients sustaining tenancies across the programme. Up to May 2021, the West Midlands pilot recorded a sustainment rate of 93%. In the quarter up to April 2021, the Liverpool City region pilot recorded 90.4% sustainment.

Report: “It’s like a dream come true” An inquiry into scaling up Housing First in England