Hackney Council’s NHS-funded Housing First trial to begin in January

Wayne, who was housed under the Fulfilling Lives project. Picture: Single Homeless Project

Wayne, who was housed under the Fulfilling Lives project. Picture: Single Homeless Project - Credit: Archant

The council’s pioneering Housing First scheme is set to begin in January after a provider is confirmed next week.

Housing First is founded on the belief that a home is a basic human right.

It gives the most vulnerable people in society an unconditional roof over their heads, rather than as a reward for engaging with services or on the premise that they then do so as happens now. The belief is it will give them the platform to recover and rebuild their lives.

The idea was born in New York in the 1990s and has proved successful across Europe.

Hackney housing chief Cllr Rebecca Rennison said at the council's Rough Sleeping Summit in February that an NHS-funded Housing First trial for 20 people was underway, with a tender process to take place in March. It is understood the 20 people will be placed in homes that are otherwise social rent.

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The support provider is now set to be confirmed at a town hall meeting.

A report says: "The service will support entrenched rough sleepers, who have multiple and complex needs that include mental ill health, offending behaviour, substance misuse and personality disorders, achieve social inclusion.

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"This service is designed to support people who have not thrived in traditional hostel accommodation, to live independently.

"The Housing First model addresses the health and housing needs of those that place high demands on services, whilst adding value and delivering potential savings across the local health and care system. By supporting people into stable accommodation and enabling them to address their health issues, this service will reduce levels of need across a marginalised and vulnerable group."

The previous government backed the rollout of Housing First and last year a £28million pilot for Greater Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands was announced.

Former CEO of homelessness charity Thames Reach Jeremy Swain spoke at the summit while deputy director of homelessness and rough sleeping at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government - a role he held for less than six months.

He said the scheme was making "slow progress", partly because landlords or providers were reluctant to let out their homes and partly because "Brexit trumps everything".

The Single Homeless Project, a charity working across Islington and Camden, ran the original UK trial in Camden in 2012, and another successful lottery-funded project, "Fulfilling Lives in Islington and Camden". It now also has schemes in Newham and Redbridge.

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