Rapid rehousing

We have over 20 years of experience helping people with experience of homelessness access housing. We work with private and social landlords, local authorities, housing associations and Housing First projects to make more housing available to those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homelessness.

One of the key principles of Everybody in: How end homelessness in Great Britain is an emphasis on housing led solutions.

Given the extensive international evidence which supports the success of a housing led approach we want to see this approach taken to a greater scale in the UK. To test this, we have undertaken two housing led feasibility studies in the Liverpool City Region and in Torbay and as we are keen to test the approach in different housing markets and contexts we are looking to commission a third for Oxfordshire.

The Oxfordshire project

We are keen to undertake a study in Oxfordshire to best understand how a housing led approach can be applied in an area of high housing demand, with a challenging lack of affordable housing, within a rural and urban mix and in a 2-tier local authority setting.

Further to these aims the research is being undertaken so the five district councils and county council in Oxfordshire can confidently and robustly talk about the costs and potential benefits of implementing a housing led approach.

The study will produce a costed model detailing how a housing led approach can be implemented in Oxfordshire. The audiences for the work will be commissioners of homelessness services in the area, current homelessness providers, and local and national policy makers. Oxford’s homelessness services contracts are due for renewal in late 2020 and this piece of work will inform commissioning decisions going forward.

This piece of research will form part of a programme of work within the area, aiming to answer the question of whether there is a better way for Oxfordshire to deliver services end homelessness for single people.

Of key interest is how the approach will operate across a 2-tier authority, which is comprised of Oxfordshire County Council as the upper-tier local authority and the 5 local government districts; Oxford City, Cherwell, Vale of White Horse, West Oxfordshire and South Oxfordshire. The research findings will need to speak to this and use specific considerations for each of the 5 districts.

What do we mean by Housing Led?

Housing led approaches or what is known as ‘rapid rehousing’ is an approach to ending someone’s homelessness by moving them into their own home as soon as possible. It is the counter approach to the traditional ‘staircase’ model where people move out of homelessness in a series of stages often involving them meet a series of conditions before moving to the next form of housing.

It operates under the guiding principle that everyone has a right to a home and does not rely on the condition that someone must be tenancy ‘ready’ before being offered their own home.

Housing First is an example of a housing led approach but is aimed at ending people’s homelessness who have complex needs as it involves a high degree of intensive, personalised support. 

Background and context

Housing led approaches have achieved marked success in several cities, states and countries across North America and Europe. In the UK, several specific Housing First programmes are up and running, including 3 larger scale government funded pilots in England.

In Scotland, there is a government backed commitment to rapid re-housing with all local authorities expected to work towards a housing led system and away from a reliance on temporary accommodation. However, to date most projects are still relatively small and localised, with a focus on providing an option for a limited number of homeless people who are being failed by the prevailing homelessness system in that area.

As such, the definition of Housing First, and who it is directed at, has been restricted to those who are most entrenched and have been rough sleeping long term. We have not yet seen a shift to a housing led approach across the whole homelessness system although progress is being made especially in Scotland as referenced above.

Project oversight and governance

The project is being funded by Crisis and all of the Oxfordshire Local Authorities. Crisis will oversee the feasibility study, with commissioned researchers reporting regularly to a project manager.

We will establish a local advisory group to oversee the progress of the study and will report into the Oxfordshire Service Transformation Board which will be made up of invested stakeholders who will provide active governance.

The research will also include a significant emphasis on peer led research conducted by people with a lived experience of homelessness in Oxfordshire.

We will also seek to make links and consult with existing structures and forums to maximise opportunities for consultation and to share and check progress.

Proposed Time-line

It is intended that the project will launch mid-December with a number of 1-2-1 engagements with key stakeholders and the setting up of focus groups. There is the opportunity for a introductory / initial consultation event (date to be confirmed) to include representatives from the Housing First Europe Hub sharing their experiences of successful housing led projects. This launch event will provide an opportunity to hear more detail about the study and ask questions.

It is expected that the whole project will last 9-12 months with regular consultation and feedback events held during this period and a point of contact established for any emerging queries.


The research will comprise of five main elements:

  • Constructing an operational model for the delivery of a housing led model across Oxfordshire
  • Analysis on the costs of implementing a housing led approach including transitional arrangements
  • Analysis of the policy and practice implications of implementing a housing led approach across Oxfordshire
  • Consultations with local stakeholders and people currently and previously homeless
  • A Project Advisory Group and Project Steering Group to advise on research design, findings and implications for operationalising the conclusions from the study.


The study will be made available in a published report and Crisis will promote the findings across the UK and Europe. Outputs from the study will include: 

  • A written report which sets out the proposed model
  • Presentation and discussion of report findings at a final event in Oxford but with a commitment to present findings at other locations where required.

Getting Involved

Please let us know if you would like to be kept informed by emailing bestpractice@crisis.org.uk We will also add updates to this web page. 

Help to rent

The Private Rented Sector (PRS) has been used to house homeless people for a number of years. We work with landlords to increase the supply of good quality homes for homeless people.

We have an additional service operating from our Edinburgh Skylight. Help to Rent Edinburgh started in March 2019. It is commissioned by City of Edinburgh Council and run by Crisis, to help people who are currently homeless in Edinburgh to find and keep a home in the PRS. Read more about eligibility criteria and contact information by visiting Help to Rent Edinburgh on our Help to Rent database.

Housing First 

Our aim is to see full national scale-up of Housing First as part of a rapid rehousing approach, and to achieve this we have partnered with Homeless Link in the development of the Housing First England project.

Read more about our work to implement more Housing First projects on the housing models and access section. Or read our feasibility studies within our practitioner resources below.

Housing associations

We are partnered with Homes for Cathy, an alliance of Housing Associations that are committed to ending homelessness. Read more about Homes for Cathy and the commitments they have made to end homelessness.

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