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Homelessness could vanish from Scotland’s streets


The rollout of the Housing First initiative in Scotland is set to be stepped up, with a target of helping 830 people find homes

The most visible forms of homelessness could be gone from Scotland’s streets within three years.

The rollout of the Housing First scheme in Scotland could see visible and acute homelessness become a thing of the past, as work ramps-up in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Stirling.

The Housing First Pathfinder – a Scottish Government backed programme created with support from The Merchants House of Glasgow, and Social Bite – is extending its work across Scotland after a successful nine-month initiation period. The project has been building networks and getting systems in place, with more than 50 people already housed through the programme in this warm up phase.

Housing First provides mainstream housing with wrap-around support as a first response rather than the final step in a long process. It is proven to be a better and more lasting response for people with experiences such as trauma, abuse, addictions and mental ill health. The target is to house 830 people by the end of the Pathfinder programme, and the remaining 27 Scottish councils are shaping up their plans to deliver Housing First in their areas.

Maggie Brunjes, chief executive of The Homeless Network, which manages the Pathfinder, said the project is working to bring about a lasting change.

She said: “Everyone needs a home, and those that have braved the biggest challenges – and been most disadvantaged by the conditions that create homelessness – need housing first and fast. This is a game-changer, a radical and totally new approach to homelessness in Scotland that is a caring and respectful response we can be proud of.”

Josh Littlejohn, Social Bite co-founder, said: “Housing First is a truly transformative programme that provides a human-centred, kind and compassionate response to the systemic issue of homelessness. We are incredibly proud of our partners who are pioneering positive change. A huge thank you also goes to the thousands of people who have made this possible by taking part in Sleep in the Park, raising funds and the consciousness of the nation.”

Scotland has become only the third country in the world to fully implement this radical approach to homelessness, proven to be successful in Finland, the only European country where homelessness is falling according to a report released this week by FEANTSA, the body that monitors homelessness across Europe.

Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart said: “We want to ensure everyone has a safe, warm place they can call home.

“Our Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan sets out how we are working with partners to prevent homelessness and address people’s needs quickly when homelessness does occur. This includes a shift towards a system of rapid rehousing and delivery of the Housing First approach for people with more complex needs.

“We are currently working with local authorities to finalise 32 Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans so that we can begin to invest £23.5 million allocated to this, deliver lasting change on the ground and ensure better outcomes for people facing the blight of homelessness.”

Mick Wright is one of those who has benefitted from the new system.

“All I can say about Housing First is, it works,” he said. “Of the guys I knew from the hostel who got a flat, none of them have failed, not one has gone back to being homeless. It’s meant that I can have my kid round and we have a proper relationship. It’s just normal, making a cup of tea or waking up in my own bed – for all this I’m very grateful.”



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A Human
over 1 year ago
Housing First seems to be a approach that has proven positive results for those who are homeless and have mental health and addiction issues. All mental health and addiction issues stem from abuse and the Housing First model seems to be a viable alternative to the statutory mental health services that currently address these problems. However there are a number of groups represented amongst the homeless community that are excluded from Housing First and would find the wrap around support both partornising and suffocating. Housing First like most other services provided for those without accommodation starts with the automatic unspoken assumption that every person who loses they're home is mentally ill, addicted to a substance, victim of abuse. As being homeless is traumatic this is the only one of the factors mentioned that is universally true for all without accommodation. Housing options that insist on providing support regardless of need are out of the price range for any person who doesn't have support needs. Supported housing excludes those who work. As 55% of homeless people work (FOI request by Channel 4 Dispatches) that's a lot of people forced to choice between unemployment or benefit fraud via non declaration of earnings. Thus enforcing the stereotype of "all homeless are dishonest" which quite frankly is untrue. Guidance from Scottish Government specifically specifies that consideration that homelessness doesn't necessarily mean additional support requirements or complex needs. I fully support the Housing First model and its positive impact in other countries is clear. But discrimination even if it is positive discrimination such as Housing First impacts adversely and perhaps unfairly on those homeless people who don't have support needs. Affordable accommodation including affordable temporary accommodation would provide a safety net for people who want to remain able to help themselves and prevent the deskilling of enforced support housing models. Unfortunately the profit margin for affordable accommodation is far less than with supported accommodation. I will remain homeless until theres a gap in the supported accommodation only model that allows me to be housed without needing to pay for support I don't need. Potentially my situation is the same as that of 55% of all homeless people.