Housing models and access

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.

Private renting

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)

Housing First

Housing First is a treatment-first 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.

Although there are some examples of the approach being used in the UK, it still has not adopted as a form of state support but is currently being piloted across the UK (Staircases, Elevators and Cycles of Change, 2010).  

Supported accommodation

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)


Moving On: Improving Access to Housing for Single Homeless People in England

Moving On is a report produced by Crisis studying the scale of single homelessness in England and the barriers single homeless people face accessing social housing.

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Improving Access to the Private Rented Sector: A Best Practice Report. Scotland (2016)

Best practice report showcasing the work done by some of the highest performing rent deposit guarantee schemes in Scotland and England.

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Creating Successful Shared Tenancies Annual Report - Scotland (2016)

This report addresses concerns around the management of shared tenancies, namely improving sustainment rates and looking at the experiences of those engaging with sharing services.

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Crisis' Private Rented Sector Access Development Programme (2014)

Final evaluation of the Private Rented Sector Access Development Programme which began in 2010.

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The homelessness legislation: an independent review of the legal duties owed to homeless people (2015)

An independent panel of experts from across the housing and homelessness sector assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the homelessness legislation in England.

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