Home for All - Why we're writing to Rishi about Housing First

Rosie Downes, Campaigns Manager
“All the other services seemed to just refer to other agencies going round in circles - never got anywhere. Housing First I know are there, are not going away, more time, and they don’t judge and don’t give up, I’ve never had help like this before and I am very grateful.” Bonnie, Housing First resident

During the pandemic, over 37,000 people were helped off the streets, and out of other precarious situations, into emergency accommodation. But while the Government’s Everyone In scheme to help people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic was extraordinary, it has not ended rough sleeping or homelessness.

The Home for All campaign is calling for a new approach to ending homelessness. That means a renewed strategy that prioritises housing and giving people the support they need to keep a home, starting with the rollout of Housing First. Without this, we believe Government will not meet its manifesto commitment to end rough sleeping by 2024. Support for people born outside of the UK who are facing homelessness is also necessary and so we'll be launching a new report and campaign activity on that later this autumn. Long-term, our goal is to end all forms of homelessness and, where possible, prevent it from arising in the first place.

So how do we get there?

“Everywhere I went, every place I got housed in these hostels, my using would get worse because of the environment for me, it was just playing on my anxiety and so I just ended up just not going to these places and living on the streets.” Danielle, Housing First resident

Right now, England’s homelessness system relies heavily on a ‘staircase model’, which starts with emergency options like night shelters and hostels - rather than getting people back into a home of their own as quickly as possible. People struggle to access a home of their own until they’re deemed “ready”. But it can be almost impossible to prove you’re “ready” for independent housing while living long-term in somewhere like a hostel or night shelter, or worse still - the streets - which can mean you don’t have the privacy and space to recover from the trauma of homelessness.

What people need is a stable home of their own if they are to move away from homelessness for good. Some people will also need support to keep a home long term. That’s where Housing First comes in.

Housing First helps end homelessness

“I’ve progressed so much just because of, just simply the fact of where, me getting a place and me having support. Because obviously I was on drugs and I was getting in trouble. But since being here I’ve stopped taking drugs. I’ve got a volunteer job so I’ve got college coming up, you know I’ve just got all sorts like just, life things, there’s just, just, from that one crucial step of having somewhere to live, I've about five or six things that have followed from it.” Michelle 

Housing First is one of the most important innovations in tackling homelessness of the last few decades. It is for people with a range of support needs, including mental health, substance or alcohol use, and who have a long history of homelessness. It provides somewhere permanent to live and tailored, unconditional support, so people have a much stronger chance of keeping their home and rebuilding a life away from homelessness, especially rough sleeping. It’s proven to end homelessness for around 80% of people who it is targeted at.

And because Housing First works, we also know in the long term it saves us money. By ending homelessness for those that are at highest risk of returning to rough sleeping, Housing First will mean people won’t end up stuck in our homelessness system or in our emergency health services such as A&E because there’s nowhere else for them to go. It means for every £1 invested in Housing First, the Government saves £1.24.

But currently we don’t have enough Housing First programmes in England to help people who need this support. We know around 16,450 Housing First places are needed in England, if we are to help everyone who needs it. But there are roughly only 2,000 Housing First places available at the moment.

What are we calling for?

“This is needed by all people like myself, I think people get lost in the system and they are usually the ones that need the help the most, it needs to be expanded everywhere. If it can help me move forwards with my life it can help everyone. I keep falling over but with support I am not giving up.” Bonnie, Housing First resident

The Government pledged to end rough sleeping by 2024, but without funding for Housing First, thousands of people will be left without the support they need. The Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to set out the Government’s spending priorities in the autumn. We’re calling on him and Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, to make sure that they include scaling up Housing First across England in their spending priorities, so people get the support they need to rebuild a life away from homelessness.

But we need your help. You can help by adding your name to our letter to the Chancellor and the Housing Secretary, and asking them to fund Housing First. You could also email your MP and ask them to make the case for the Government to invest in Housing First to help ensure a home for all, and share the campaign on social media.

This moment invites us to decide what kind of society we want to be – one that treats everyone with dignity and respect, or one that leaves some people without the basic human need of a decent home. Together we can make the change so no one is forced to sleep rough and there is a home for all.


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