A group of 12 organisations representing social landlords, local authorities and the wider homelessness sector are calling on Government and social housing providers to help make this happen.
With major new investment in move-on housing and support on the horizon, now is the time to follow through on commitments and make Housing First available to those who need it, writes Jennie Corbett for Homeless Link.
The need for more investment in Housing First is widely accepted. This is reflected in clear Government commitments to Housing First before the pandemic, and the increasing appetite amongst local authorities, social landlords and the wider homelessness sector to make scaled-up Housing First a reality.
A group of leading homelessness stakeholders representing social landlords, local authorities and homelessness services in England have come together to highlight this widespread support for scaling up Housing First and what we need from Government to help make that happen. The group, including Homeless Link, Crisis, the National Housing Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the National Federation of ALMOs and Homes for Cathy, as well as housing associations A2Dominion, Two Saints, L&Q, the South Yorkshire Housing Association, Camden Council and the Smith Institute (hosts of the Affordable Housing Commission), want to ensure that Housing First has its place in post-lockdown planning to end rough sleeping in England.
Research commissioned by Crisis and Homeless Link suggests that 16,500 people in England facing multiple disadvantage need a Housing First approach to end their homelessness. However, significantly fewer are currently receiving it. The Government’s recent pledge to invest in 6,000 supported move-on units offers a promising opportunity, and expanding Housing First provision should be key to this. The statement demands a long-term, cross-departmental investment in support and housing to deliver high-fidelity Housing First and offers our support to Government to do so.
Our statement calls on the Government to:
- Commit long-term funding for the support services needed to enable 16,500 Housing First tenancies over the current Government term.
Government should drive the Housing First agenda by providing a long-term commitment to fund support for those receiving a Housing First offer, along with a broader commitment to funding floating support for those who are at risk of homelessness already living in tenancies.
In recognition of the crucial role played by non-homelessness providers in delivering Housing First, commitments should be cross-departmental in order to facilitate effective multi-agency collaboration at the local level.
- Ensure there is a supply of suitable homes to meet the scale of need for Housing First and wider housing-led provision to tackle homelessness.
This should include funding commitments to rapidly increase the supply of housing available to people moving on from homelessness, including exploring options for tenure conversion and market acquisition to boost the supply of one bed social rent homes. Access to the private rented sector should be improved by making additional funding available to local authorities, implementing a national rent deposit guaranteed scheme and making essential reforms to the welfare system.
Social housing providers also have a role to play. We call on all social housing providers to support the expansion of Housing First by:
- Working with commissioners through housing and homelessness partnerships to understand the scale of need locally and agree an allocation of tenancies for commissioned Housing First services.
- Making the case for a long-term funding framework for sustainable support provision.
- Working jointly between Local Authorities and Housing Associations to increase flexibility in allocations practices outside of usual procedures and using a person-centred approach.
- Adopting and sharing learning and positive practice on the delivery of homes for high fidelity Housing First.