Housing First National Framework Opens for Consultation

This new and comprehensive 90-page National Framework is for all organisations and sectors starting or scaling up Housing First in Scotland. It sets out the context in which Housing First can be successfully delivered, and should act as a guide to planning, commissioning and implementing the approach.

Importantly, section 7 provides a ‘Live Status Report’, which will monitor progress toward achieving the right conditions for Housing First to be scaled up right across Scotland, in line with local need.

Housing First should be the first response for people whose homelessness is made harder by experiences such as trauma, addictions and mental ill-health. It provides ordinary housing in an ordinary community because this, for most people, is the best option. It combines settled housing with person-centred, strengths-based and flexible support – as much and for as long as someone wants it.

Please keep an eye on Housing First Scotland website for the consultation launch this week, and on social media at @HFScotland. For more information, training or learning opportunities, or to discuss any element of the framework in more detail, please email housingfirst@homelessnetwork.scot 

Housing First Scotland belongs to everyone who is helping Housing First become the first response for people whose homelessness is compounded by experiences such as trauma, abuse, addictions and mental ill health. It has been hosted by Homeless Network Scotland since 2016.

Homelessness Guide for Scots Councils

guide for Scotland’s 32 local authorities is published todaysummarising more than 100 recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG) after it was reconvened by the Scottish Government in response to the pandemic. The guide has been developed by Crisis and Homeless Network Scotland, with support from local authority officers and the Scottish Government.

HARSAG met originally in 2017 to recommend actions and solutions needed to eradicate rough sleeping and transform the use of temporary accommodation in Scotland. It also advised Scottish Ministers on how to ensure the recommendations are successfully implemented to secure rapid change and improvement. The Scottish Government reconvened HARSAG in June 2020 to help mitigate against the impact of the pandemic on this progress.

This latest series of recommendations endorse rapid rehousing as the key approach in preventing and resolving homelessness in Scotland and the right framework for recovery. There are also central asks of the UK Government on issues such as No Recourse to Public Funds.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis and Chair of HARSAG, said:

“Scotland has made great progress in addressing homelessness in recent years, adopting rapid rehousing as a key policy at national level and publishing a Government Action Plan to End Homelessness.

“The Scottish Government reconvened the HARSAG in June in order to ensure this progress continues through the pandemic. The Group highlighted key actions local authorities and their partners must take to accelerate the elements of rapid rehousing which we know work best – preventing homelessness before it happens and prioritising safe, settled homes over temporary accommodation. 

“This short, simple guide will make it easier for local authorities across Scotland to implement HARSAG’s recommendations and refresh their rapid rehousing strategies in light of the pandemic. Local authorities and partners now have clear guidelines on how to work together to help end homelessness for good.”

Elena WhithamCOSLA Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, said:

“Local Government is committed to working with partners to end homelessness, and this short guide is intended to support the transfer of the national recommendations and policy into local delivery. We know that although we have all experienced the pandemic, its effects and impacts have not been the same across the country, however significant challenges exist for all. I hope this guide, provides useful assistance in our shared ambition of ending homelessness in Scotland.”

Maggie Brünjes, Chief Executive at Homeless Network Scotland, which worked alongside Crisis, local authority and Scottish Government colleagues to produce the guide said:

“Councils in Scotland are at the centre of the response to Covid in so many ways. The guide is a simple tool to assist local authorities transfer into delivery the main themes sitting behind over 100 recommendations. It highlights what they mean for councils’ Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans, which all local authorities have produced, and sets out the roles and actions expected of key partners.”

The recommendations recognise that, on account of the pandemic, Rapid Rehousing Transition Plans (RRTPs) must be adapted and the data informing them reviewed, and some of HARSAG’s original recommendations must be accelerated, emphasised or broadened in focus.

The four key themes in the guide are: 

  • prioritise prevention
  • broadening settled housing options
  • deepening the equalities focus
  • creating a responsive system with ‘no wrong door’.

Scotland’s Housing First Pathfinder Maintains Zero Eviction Record

The latest update from Scotland’s Housing First Pathfinder Tracker, published this week, shows that there have been no evictions since the Pathfinder began more than two years ago. More than 300 tenancies have now been created with just under 90% of people remaining in their home. 

These latest numbers demonstrates the effectiveness of the Housing First model in supporting people going through the toughest times to build and live their lives.

The tracker for September 2020 shows 17 people moving into their own homes during the month, bringing the total tenancies created for the programme to 327. It is inspiring that 12 people in Glasgow have passed the two-year milestone in their tenancy, an example of the positive and sustainable outcomes being achieved by Housing First.

Housing First passes 300 tenancies

Scotland’s Housing First Pathfinder has created more than 300 tenancies with an additional 50 added since April, the most recent monitoring report has revealed.

Housing First provides ordinary, settled housing as a first response for people whose homelessness is made harder by experiences such as trauma and addiction. The Pathfinder launched officially on 1 April 2019, supported by housing providers across the country with Wheatley Group leading, and with funding from the Scottish Government, Social Bite and Merchants House Glasgow.

Figures for August 2020 are the second highest so far in terms of new tenancies started, with 21 people moving into their own home and a total of 306 tenancies started. Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire joint Housing First consortium marked 55 tenancies created, almost half their target of 120.

The key indicator of ‘tenancy sustainment’, which shows how many people kept their tenancy, remains high over the full first year of the Pathfinder, this month at 87%. This compares favourably to international benchmarks for tenants who often have trauma and long-term homelessness as part of their life experience.

Of the 40 tenancies that have ended during the Pathfinder, 19 were cases where a tenancy could not be sustained successfully – for example, abandoning the flat. The remaining 21 ended for other reasons – sadly, mostly likely to be as a result of the death of the tenant or long-term prison.

Dundee, at 49 tenancies, is just one shy of the halfway mark towards a target 100 tenancies. Housing First tenant, James, from Dundee, was the second referral for the city’s consortium and took up a Housing First tenancy after recovery from addiction and periods of rough sleeping.

James said: “I didn’t want to go into a hostel because I wanted to keep away from that environment and support my recovery, so I stayed on the street. The Housing First team kept in touch with me and really got to know me, and then they helped me find a flat, now it’s just weekly check ins. After about a year I chucked away my sleeping bag when I finally felt sure I was going to be safe and secure in the flat. Housing First has changed my mindset and I’ve built a new life for myself.”

Doug Gibson, partnerships manager at Homeless Network Scotland, said: “Each milestone reached is down to the hard work of tenants, housing providers, support workers and local partners and never more so than in recent months. A significant scaling up of Housing First was signalled by the First Minister in the recent programme for government, which makes the National Framework for Housing First, due to go out for consultation shortly, timely.

“That will provide a clear and comprehensive resource to support every partner and sector starting or scaling up Housing First in Scotland in line with our original objectives and the new urgency brought about as a result of the pandemic.”

Sponsor Mick’s Skydive for Homelessness

In August, new dad, Michael (Mick) Wright, plans to jump out of a plane at 10,000ft to thank Glasgow’s Housing First programme for supporting him as moves on with his life after experiencing homelessness a couple of years ago.

Mick is due to take part in a sponsored skydive to raise money for the Salvation Army.

Glasgow’s Housing First programme provides normal settled tenancies to people with some of the hardest experiences of homelessness, and the Salvation Army undertakes wrap around support to help maintain tenancies and let people get on with building and living their lives.

With underlying health issues including diabetes, Mick experienced homelessness two years ago. He lost his job as a chef after experiencing some additional health issues. “I was really low. I was too proud to go back to my mum and dad’s,” says Mick. “I wanted to try to get a house of my own but I couldn’t afford the rent. I found myself just walking about and I ended up going to homelessness services.”

In September 2018, Mick secured a one-bedroom Housing First flat in Hillington and, since then, hasn’t looked back. Five months after moving into his new home, he met his new partner and they went on to have a baby boy, Freddie, in December 2019. He has also passed his driving test and hopes to find work supporting other homeless people.

Michael said: “Housing First has been amazing for me. It was magic when I got my one-bed flat and I would not have got to where I am now without the help of my Salvation Army case worker. We have moved to a wee house big enough for the baby and I want to get back into work when my health improves hopefully.”

“My life has turned around 360 degrees. I feel better physically and mentally. I’m in a good place now and I couldn’t be happier. My life is full of positive things. I have my two boys, an amazing partner and a new addition to the family. Hopefully now I can drive it will open more doors for me.

“A skydive is something I’ve always wanted to do and I want to give something back to the people who helped me. I will be jumping out of a (perfectly good) plane from over 10,000ft and free-falling at a speed of up to 120mph. Please help me raise funds to fight homelessness.”

Anyone who would like to sponsor Mick can do so at http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mick-wright84