Housing First joint funding call to support people and families

Families are increasingly benefiting from the positive impact of Housing First Scotland, figures highlighted in a new report suggest.

The annual Check-up published by Homeless Network Scotland flags up Scottish Government figures showing there are 100 children in Housing First households against fewer than five reported in 2021 ­– hinting at the growing scope for Housing First to reunite parents and children.

This would add to proven life-changing effects of Housing First in preventing homelessness for people who face multiple disadvantages, by providing settled housing with flexible support.

But despite these promising figures the report warns the housing crisis and current funding arrangements are “actively damaging” delivery, upscaling and staffing of Housing First – amid rising demand and increasing homelessness.

The report states: “Housing First reaches people other services have not been able to reach. All this needs a steady supply of social homes.”

It says contributors have given examples of tenants engaging in the Housing First process so they can work towards having access to their children – and in time take them out of care – but adds that more data is needed to get the full picture of what is happening.

Housing First combines settled, ordinary housing in a community with flexible support – as much or as little as needed – to help a person maintain their tenancy.

The Check-up report sets out the successes and challenges in 2023-24 of Housing First across 26 local authorities, based on insights from housing and support providers, and tenants.

The report contains 14 priorities based on themes that came up again and again – covering areas such as funding, tenancy support, partnership working and staffing.

As of September 2023, 1,646 Housing First tenancies had been started since inception in Scotland. Housing First is demonstrating that 90% of tenancies are being sustained over 12 months from entry.

But the report points to analysis by Heriot-Watt University that suggests Housing First is currently only meeting around 9% of projected demand, underscoring the need for long-term funding.

In most local authorities, funding for Housing First is aligned with transition funding from Scottish Government which is temporary in nature.

In some areas this means local authorities are unable to offer Housing First workers job security, with knock-on effects on recruitment and caseload sizes.

The report highlights the urgent need for Housing First to move toward a more permanent cycle of funding so that it can be upscaled at pace. Due to the overlapping nature of people’s circumstances, a model of funding that reaches across a range of council departments is now needed to get best results – including homelessness, community justice, mental health, drug and alcohol recovery services.

The report also points to evidence of cost savings across the NHS and wider public sector delivered by Housing First and stresses the importance of all services that benefit investing in delivery.

Housing Minister Paul McLennan said: “Providing people experiencing homelessness with accommodation first, before helping with their longer term needs, is at the heart of rapid rehousing.

“The Scottish Government’s ambition is that Housing First will be the first response for people across Scotland whose homelessness is made harder by experiences with trauma, addiction and mental health difficulties.

“I welcome this report which highlights the steady progress local authorities have made in rolling-out Housing First across Scotland, with 26 local authorities now delivering the service, over 1,600 tenancies delivered, and tenancy sustainment rates of 90%.

“It is particularly profound that enabling people to maintain settled tenancies through Housing First is supporting children to return to safe homes.

“I recognise that for Housing First to achieve its full potential, a steady supply of social homes is needed and there is more to do to ensure it is available for anyone who needs it. We remain committed to working in partnership with local authorities to achieve that ambition.”

Homeless Network Scotland chief executive Maggie Brünjes said: “Housing First in Scotland is becoming internationally regarded and our local authorities and their partners deserve huge credit for branching out Housing First in the face of housing, budget and cost-of-living crises. 

“But there are thousands more people braving a range of challenges who are not getting the proven benefits of Housing First. And there are many support staff juggling complex caseloads under a shroud of job insecurity.

“This can be solved by giving more homes to Housing First and by drawing funding from across local authority budgets to mirror the range of life circumstances that Housing First meets. We can’t risk rolling back on Housing First. We need national and local leadership to help step up our efforts to extend the positive impact of Housing First to more people, families and communities.”

Read the Annual Check-up for 2023.

Housing First helps Maxine to Transform her life

Housing First is helping a woman who struggled with addiction, trauma and physical abuse to maintain a tenancy for the first time and transform her life. Maxine has been in her Dundee flat for four years following several tenancies that failed due to abandonment, non-payment of rent or anti-social behaviour. 

During one tenancy she was cuckooed, attacked and hospitalised, and she had spells staying in a temporary hostel which caused her further physical and mental anguish. 

She moved from a hostel into a flat in 2020 with support from Transform Community Development as part of the Housing First Pathfinder it led with other local organisations from 2018 to 2021. Funds once spent on hostels are now being repurposed to develop Housing First in the city. 

Despite moving closer to her mum Maxine wasn’t confident and was sceptical about the level of support she’d get – an important factor as she has fought addiction most of her adult life and suffered trauma including the overdose death of a brother. 

But members of the now rebranded Housing Support Team ensured her flat was furnished and carpeted and helped her access the treatment at Dundee Drug & Alcohol Recovery Service, something she had difficulty in sustaining previously.  

Maxine also got help with household budgeting and was supported to be a good neighbour and attend urgent medical appointments.  

Her support level has dwindled from 20-plus hours of direct support from her Housing Support Worker each week to a couple of hours a week, and this will be stepped down to a lower-level support team in the coming months.  

But if Maxine’s needs increase, she can re-enter the Housing First programme without further assessment – showing the flexibility and participant-focused nature of the support.   

This approach also allows the Housing Support Team to reallocate support hours and free up a Housing Support Worker for a new tenant. 

Maxine has now taken up meaningful activity including engaging with a community arts programme, which has given her social connections outwith her previous network.  

The Housing Support Team works actively with over 90 people, providing innovative and intensive support to those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. 

Transform Community Development took forward mainstreaming of Housing First in Dundee at the end of Social Bite’s involvement in the programme, using an innovative and far-sighted strategy to develop and expand the programme. 

The charity works with Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership and Dundee City Council to develop services in alignment with the local Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan. 

Housing First Europe Conference to be held in Scotland

An international conference is being held in Glasgow on 27 April 2023, bringing together housing and homelessness leaders from across Europe who are committed to redressing housing disadvantage through the Housing First approach.

The event is hosted by the Housing First Europe Hub, who work to support a shift to Housing First as the first and central response to homelessness across Europe through advocacy, training, practice, research, support and communication activities.

The Hub was established in 2016 by the Y-Foundation (Finland) and FEANTSA (the European Federation of National Organisations Working with Homeless People) along with more than 15 partners. Since then, the Hub has grown to include more than 37 organisations, cities, government ministries, housing providers and researchers from across Europe and beyond. Scotland associates are the Rock Trust, Turning Point Scotland, Simon Community Scotland and Homeless Network Scotland who have worked in partnership with the Hub to host this year’s event in Scotland.

On Thursday 27 April 2023, the event will open for delegates from across Scotland to join the discussions – and we warmly welcome colleagues from all sectors who are working in and around homelessness in Scotland. Here’s an outline of the programme:



09:30 Welcome from the Housing First Europe Hub

09:45 What’s next for Housing First in Scotland? Speakers from Scottish Government and Homeless Network Scotland

10:30 Roundtable Introductions

10:45 BREAK

11:00 Making the Shift. How are housing providers, support providers and local authorities shifting to a Housing First approach?

World-cafe style, moving between roundtables – sharing insights and approaches.

12:30 LUNCH

13:30 System Change – learning from experience.

14:15 Roundtable Discussions

14:30 Plenary Session

15:30 CLOSE

The free event is taking place at The Renfield Centre, 260 Bath St, Glasgow G2 4JP. Places are limited, please book your place here selecting the tick-box ‘April 27th’ and entering your name, organisation and dietary requirements.

Housing First monitoring report: year one quarter four

This report captures data for Housing First tenancies which started in Scotland from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.

Key Points

  • A total of 83 new Housing First tenancies started between 1 January and 31 March 2022. A further 11 tenancies had begun between July and December 2021 which had not been captured in previous reports. This brings the total number of Housing First tenancies which started since 1 April 2021 to 318.
  • There are currently 310 Housing First tenancies: 8 tenancies have ended.
  • 14 tenancies are in the ‘step down’ or ‘stand down’ phase.[1]
  • Within the 310 Housing First tenancies there are 318 adults and 18 children. Additionally, 36 households had access to 53 children but do not have full-time custody.
  • Between 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022, it has taken an average of 181 days for a Housing First participant to move into a permanent tenancy from the referral date.
  • 30% of Housing First participants move into their tenancy within 50 days.
  • 94% of Housing First households are single people.
  • 43% of participants are aged 35-49.
  • 70% of participants are receiving support from the third and independent sector.

Read the report Housing First monitoring report: year one quarter four

Rent arrears must not end in homelessness   

Scotland’s Housing First Conference on 31 March, taking place in person once again, will consider how a ‘no evictions into homelessness’ approach could work for tenants and landlords – and if it could be woven through the future Scottish rental strategy as a guiding principle. 

The Scottish Government is consulting on ‘A New Deal for Tenants – rented sector strategy’ that seeks to improve accessibility, affordability and standards across the whole rented sector. That consultation frames what is expected to be a popular afternoon breakout at the Housing First conference starting at 1.30pm hosted by Yvonne Gavan, Scottish Government and Ruth Whatling, Homeless Network Scotland. 

A New Deal for Tenants also commits to building on learning from the temporary Covid-19 eviction ban and consider how to further protect tenants from being evicted over the winter period. The conference will explore this theme at a ‘Housing ends Homelessness’ session hosted by Callum Chomczuk, National Director of Chartered Institute of Housing with guests David Bookbinder, Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations, Lorna Cameron, Horizon Housing Association, Eileen McMullan, SFHA and Nicola McQuiston, Wheatly Group. 

Alongside many other issues, it is an opportunity to unpick how the ‘no evictions into homelessness’ principle, a pillar of the Everyone Home Collective 2022 plan, could operate in practice as part of the rented sector strategy. And specifically asking if it is possible to end to all evictions into homelessness, all year round?  

Maggie Brünjes, Chief Executive of Homeless Network Scotland, which is running the conference, said: 

“There should be no circumstances in Scotland when anyone is evicted with nowhere to go. The Scottish Government’s New Deal for Tenants is an opportunity to pin that principle and consider what practical measures are required to ensure arrangements work for tenants and landlords. 

“The stop on evictions during the pandemic was essential to protect public health and prevent homelessness. That first year of the pandemic may be too much of a one-off to benchmark but we can see a negligible impact on rent arrears. So, the question must follow, ‘Does the threat of eviction influence people in the way that has been long been assumed’.”  

The conference gets underway with A Well-Lit Path, focusing on learning and experiences at the end of Scotland’s Housing First Pathfinder that launched officially in April 2019. This panel session is hosted by Sir Andrew Cubie, Chair of Social Bite and former Chair of the Housing First Advisory Group. 

Sir Andrew Cubie said: 

“It is a pleasure to be taking part in this ‘in person’ event. It comes as the Pathfinder draws to a close, providing an opportunity to mark the achievements of this remarkable programme. Just as important is the focus on the future with an ambitious, scaled-up Housing First as part of Scotland’s transition to rapid rehousing, ending homelessness for the vast majority of those who take up a tenancy. In many respects this conference takes place at a pivotal time, making it an essential booking for the many who have contributed up to this point and for those who will take it forward.” 

Delegates are invited to reconnect at the venue after the conference and join colleagues and speakers for a glass of wine or a soft drink and snacks – an informal opportunity to catch up or make new connections. 

Book tickets on the Housing First Scotland website here and sponsorship / exhibitor packages are available to suit a range of budgets and requirements. Please email hello@homelessnetwork.scot to discuss or browse the right option for your organisation here. Follow on Twitter @HFScotland and #HeretoStay