Access to housing is a fundamental part of solving homelessness. An inability to access affordable and suitable housing causes homelessness as well as sustaining it.
The upfront cost of private rented properties is a major barrier for homeless people. Many landlords are also unwilling to let their properties to recipients of Housing Benefit or homeless people (Home: No less will do, 2016). Social housing is currently under strain due to a lack of new properties and increased demand. Solving housing issues is at the core of tackling homelessness.
Housing First is an approach that moves people directly into their own properties with support. There is an extensive international evidence base on Housing First which demonstrates its effectiveness (Housing First literature review, 2015).
Housing First was initially developed in the US and has subsequently been adopted in Canada, Austria, Japan, Finland, the Netherlands and Ireland.
Homeless Link Partnership
Crisis aim is to see full national scale-up of Housing First as part of a Rapid Re-housing approach, and to achieve this we have partnered with Homeless Link in the development of the Housing First England project.
We know that the two biggest challenges to scaling up Housing First are the availability and quality of affordable housing and the availability of sufficient and long-term funding for support services. Through our partnership we will add capacity and expertise to our efforts to tackle these challenges through best practice but also to make the case to respective governments about how they can best support Housing First (locally and nationally) across GB though our policy and campaigns work.
Homeless Link launched the Housing First England project just over three years ago. The project was developed to grow and support a national movement of Housing First services across England. The project has also produced key principles which all Housing First services should meet to ensure they stay true to the model, which we know is vital to achieving the successes that Housing First has had in other parts of the world. The project also supports a network of local Housing First services and delivers training and produces materials to support best practice.
Last year we produced some shared research with Homeless Link which shows that there are at least 18,400 people in England, Wales and Scotland who would benefit from access to a Housing First programme if implemented at scale today. The research also shows that current capacity of Housing First services stands at 400 so there is clearly still a long way to go – and still will be, even when the 3 pilots supported by the Westminster Government in Liverpool City Region, West Midlands and Greater Manchester are all fully operational.
The partnership will be able to share and learn from the national Housing First movements in Scotland and Wales where we are also playing a key role.
33% of landlords would ask for guarantors for homeless people (source: Home: No less will do, 2016)
The private rented sector has rapidly expanded across the UK (The Homelessness Monitor).
There has been a sharp increase in the number of people presenting as homeless to local authorities at the end of their private tenancies in England. At the same time, the private rented sector is increasingly used to house people experiencing homelessness.
Access to the private rented sector can be difficult. 80% of landlords are unwilling to rent to homeless people as they see benefit claimants and the homeless as risky tenants. Help to Rent schemes are a way of encouraging landlords to let to homeless people but take up of these schemes are still low despite their success (Home: No less will do, 2016).
There are also issues with the conditions of properties in the private rented sector, especially at the low end of the housing market. In a longitudinal study of homeless people being resettled into private rented housing poor conditions were extremely common and had an impact on people’s health and well-being (A roof over my head, 2014)
In some parts of the country, Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates do not match the cost of rent making it difficult for those on housing benefit to find affordable accommodation. (No room available, 2012)
Supported housing is accommodation for people who need support with everyday tasks to help them live in their own home. For homeless people, this might mean a hostel or other short-term shared housing. People who have multiple or complex needs it might mean longer-term housing.
It is a step towards independent living.
Funding for supported housing predominantly comes from the government. There have been big reductions in funding for hostels for single homeless people in recent years. In England, the government is now planning to change the way supported housing is funded after an extensive review (Supported accommodation review, 2016)
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