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

Major report on veterans’ homelessness

A detailed new report into veterans’ homelessness in Scotland is recommending that every local authority housing department should have an Armed Forces Lead Officer, social landlords should prioritise ex-Service personnel and more support should be provided for tenancy sustainment in the private rented sector. These are among 24 recommendations in the report published by Veterans’ Scotland Housing Group.

The group was asked by the Scottish Government to produce a report looking in detail at factors leading to or contributing to homelessness among people leaving the forces. The ‘Veterans’ Homelessness Prevention Pathway’ has been produced in partnership by Homeless Network Scotland, Housing Options Military Matters, Scottish Veterans Residences, Veterans Housing Scotland, Veterans Scotland and the report’s author is Dr Steve Rolfe, from University of Stirling. It will feed into the Government’s Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan, which includes Pathways similar to this one for other groups at particular risk.

Approximately 800 homelessness applications annually in Scotland are from households with a member who was previously in the Services. Concerns remain that the true figure could be higher. Veterans affected by homelessness are more likely than non-veterans to experience rough sleeping and other complex issues, with one estimate quoted in the Pathway report attributing service experiences as a cause of homelessness in around 25% of cases. Also highlighted in the report is that homelessness can occur many years after discharge from the Forces because of what is known as ‘delayed transition’ which can be due to a reluctance to seek help or the deferred impact of previous trauma.

The report highlights an additional housing challenge for military households in the degree of mobility they experience. Moving around can make it more difficult to buy a home until nearer the end of a military career, with single people often finding transition particularly difficult if they have lived in Armed Forces accommodation for many years.

Sam was a Combat Medical Technician in Afghanistan before a knee injury and post traumatic stress disorder led to her being medically discharged. Sam could not find settled housing and was struggling to see a positive outcome until getting help from support organisations and the local council last year. Sam now has a home and a pet dog called Kiera – she is training to become a paramedic.

Sam said: “When I was preparing to leave the Army, I found it difficult to navigate the housing system, I had no knowledge of homelessness and in the job, everything is provided. I think people leaving the Forces find it hard to ask for help sometimes, either because of pride or just not knowing where to go. I am grateful to Housing Options Scotland, Veterans Housing Scotland and East Lothian Council. This place is so much more than a new home, it represents a new start and I want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped me along the way.”

Housing Secretary, Shona Robison MSP, said:

“I welcome this report and thank everyone involved for the time spent developing its recommendations. We’re working to end homelessness in Scotland once and for all. We are also continually aware of the great sacrifices that veterans have made – they cannot be allowed to suffer any disadvantage as a result of their service. This report highlights the challenges and where improvements can be made, and we will continue to review the findings as part of our work to ensure everyone in Scotland has a home that meets their needs.”

Kevin Gray, CEO of Veterans Housing Scotland and Chair of the Veterans Scotland Housing Group, said: 

“Working with committed colleagues in the veterans community, charity sector and people with lived experience of homelessness willing to devote time and energy to produce a pathway that will prevent homelessness has been incredible, thank you to all those involved.

“Nobody should have to face homelessness and this report supports the overall aim of reducing and preventing homelessness for veterans in Scotland. It should be looked upon as a credible tool to support people who have served their country, moved on and require a settled home. Our aim must be to provide affordable and appropriate housing that allows military veterans and their families to lead active, dignified and positive lives when their service comes to an end, while remaining connected to support organisations throughout Scotland and networks of people with similar experiences.”

The 24 Recommendations are grouped around seven themes:

  • appropriate timely information
  • complexity of the housing system
  • delayed transition effects – sustaining a tenancy
  • coordination and awareness of veterans’ issues
  • specific policy barriers
  • equalities
  • making sure the Pathway is implemented.

With one day of military service sufficient for someone to be classed as a veteran and diversity within the military increasing, the range of experiences and needs people have moving back into civilian life is recognised. Considering disability, equality, age, ethnicity and other characteristics a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer an option. The team preparing the report spoke to veterans, people with experience of homelessness and professionals providing support. The finished document adds to existing evidence as well as contributing fresh perspective on what is needed to ensure everyone leaving the Services receives the type of support they need as quickly as possible.

Report critical of ‘destitution by design’ policy

More than 30 charities and leading academics in Scotland, in partnership with the Scottish Government and local councils, are calling for major funders to step forward ahead of the winter months to fund a step-change in the way we support people seeking sanctuary in Scotland.

The partnership, titled Fair Way Scotland, has published a landmark report today setting out proposals to counteract UK Government policy that leaves many people seeking sanctuary in Scotland unable to access most benefits due to their immigration status under ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) conditions.

The report, produced with input from people with personal experience of the asylum and immigration system, claims NRPF conditions amount to ‘destitution by design’ undermining Scotland’s human rights ambitions and providing an urgent example of where human rights are being breached. Included is an outline of a service response that joins up temporary accommodation with personal and emotional support, legal casework and general advice and advocacy. The initiative seeks to create a co-ordinated gateway to a safe destination.

Maggie Brünjes, Chief Executive of Homeless Network Scotland, says:

“Fair Way Scotland counteracts UK policy that leaves people with no support who are seeking sanctuary in Scotland. This is destitution by design, affecting people who continue to make their case to stay here because it is better than the alternative. 

“It means a safe place to stay with one-to-one support and legal advice so that people are not living in fear and destitution. It means a safe gateway to a settled destination until that destination is settled, whether this is Scotland or another place.

“A strategic funding partnership is now needed to bring about this step-change in how Scotland ends destitution and protects people’s human rights – a partnership of charitable foundations, businesses and donors – and the public sector in Scotland too. Working together, we can end destitution in Scotland.”

The report is Action 3 of the Scottish Government and COSLA Ending Destitution Together Strategy published in March 2021. It sets out the national approach to mitigating and preventing destitution and protecting the human rights of people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) in Scotland.

Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, said:

“It’s not the job of one individual or organisation to make life better for people who are fleeing dreadful conflict, human rights violations and persecution. It takes a lot of time, effort, creativity and innovation for many different partners to work together and make the offer as welcoming and warm as possible.  

“I’m really proud of the work in this area, particularly the collaboration during a very difficult time recently. It needs a swift investment from charity funders because we cannot wait too long for this to be implemented. We need action and investment in Fair Way Scotland, which can demonstrate a different, better and credible approach.

“Work still needs to happen including resourcing. In this really critical time Scotland needs to maintain its long-standing legacy of reaching out to people seeking protection.”

Maggie Brunjes added:

“When the Scottish Government and local councils in Scotland had the opportunity to provide services and accommodation for everyone during the pandemic using public health legislation, they all took it. We applaud that life-saving intervention and recognise that individuals and organisations want to help find a fair way forward. To start with, securing backing from charitable foundations is key. We want to invite a strategic funding and learning partnership to test this approach in Scotland and how it might be replicated in other cities or countries.”

A small organisation making a big impact

A busy first half of 2021 for Homeless Network Scotland included hosting the sector’s largest gatherings online, expansion of All In For Change – Scotland’s lived experience experts – and consolidation of the Everyone Home Collective, which now includes more than 30 third sector and academic organisations concerned about homelessness.

Homeless Network Scotland is a knowledge-based membership organisation. As a network, it creates opportunities to connect, learn and act on homelessness to end it for good. The organisation’s latest Impact Report sets out it’s work in the first half of this year. Priority issues in the report include what’s needed to end destitution among people with no recourse to public funds; the future role of supported housing as part of our homelessness response; taking a place-based approach to preventing homelessness and supporting Scotland to scale up Housing First.

Maggie Brünjes, Chief Executive of Homeless Network Scotland, said:

“During the first half of this year it has been our privilege to be a support-act for a remarkable sector that has continued to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on people, including enabling a successful vaccination roll-out programme across services. And to provide a platform for people who can draw on their first-hand experience of homelessness to advise on what works, what really matters and what happens next.”

Important highlights in the first half of the year included:

  • Building on the success of last year’s Staying In fund, when they distributed £100,000 directly to 1,000 people experiencing homelessness, Homeless Network Scotland worked with the Scottish Government homelessness unit to get cash directly into the hands of people living in temporary accommodation through a £50,000 winter support fund.
  • 400 people registered for the Branching Out conference in March. Over 100 people took part in two online Members Events, one focused on preventing a return to rough sleeping and the other considering the future of supported housing.
  • Following the publication of the Everyone Home Collective’s route map on ending destitution and protecting human rights, Homeless Network Scotland has worked with key partners to design a new gateway to a safe destination, support and advice for people with no recourse to public funds, preparing to launch later this year.
  • Publication of the National Housing First Framework, a blueprint for all areas starting up or scaling up Housing First in Scotland. In the transition from year two to year three of Scotland’s Housing First Pathfinder 129 people moved into their own Housing First tenancy between January and June 2021, a 54% increase compared to the same period in 2020. Prior to the Scottish elections, Homelessness Network Scotland worked with partners and politicians to secure cross-party support for Housing First in the new parliament.
  • Expansion of All In For Change with recruitment of an additional 14 Change Leads. The Change Team all have lived and frontline experience of homelessness and are contributing to the updated Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan following the new recommendations from the reconvened Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, bridging the gap between policy and action on the ground.
  • Launch of The Learning Lounge, a specially curated programme of learning and training events for organisations across Scotland. This programme reached three-times as many people than the same period last year, with 135 people from 56 organisations attending 11 courses covering six key topics.

Homeless Network Scotland has just announced dates for its autumn conference from 5-7 October 2021 based around the theme of choice. The Conference will consider what it will take to ensure that people facing homelessness have choice and real options. More details will be available in the coming weeks.