Housing First and how it works

housing support worker talking to two resident in their living room

Housing First is one of the most important innovations in tackling homelessness. It’s exactly as it’s named: house first, then wrap around any other support that might be required. This is particularly important for those who’ve been sleeping rough for some time with complex needs, such as managing drug and alcohol addiction or mental health needs.

The approach is international evidence-based and uses independent, stable housing as a stepping stone to allow individuals who are experiencing multiple disadvantage to begin recovery and move away from homelessness.

The model provides intensive, flexible and open-ended support. And existing evidence from across Europe has shown that it’s a model which has successfully ended homelessness for at least eight out of every ten people who’ve been supported. *

How does Housing First work at Sovereign?

We’ve adopted the Housing First principle with great success, placing vulnerable homeless people directly from the street or an emergency shelter into permanent independent tenancies.

Our Housing First model works on the basis that the best place to prepare for independent living is in your own home. Most importantly, the tenancy comes with comprehensive but not compulsory support.

It’s not a condition of our housing to engage in treatment and we completely separate the two. We work with skilled partners who supply the support element. They actively engage without coercion to encourage individuals to take steps towards recovery by offering flexible support for as long as it’s required through a person-centred psychologically informed approach.

We also give choice and control to residents over the location and type of housing they live in.

We provide more than just a home. Our Housing First homes have access to the services we offer to every one of our residents, including tenancy and benefits support advice; our employment and training service; and a dedicated housing officer to ensure continuity of service.

Our partnership approach

We work with our partners to provide wrap-around support. We believe that each partner’s contribution is essential and that complete engagement from all three partners ensures that the model can work successfully.

Getting set up

A basic Housing First partnership involves:

•        A housing provider - to provide a home

•        A local authority - to commission and fund the service

•        A specialist provider - to deliver support

But we are an ‘active landlord’ - we provide more than just a home. Residents in our Housing First homes have access to the services we offer to every one of our residents, including tenancy and benefits support advice, our employment and training service and a dedicated housing officer to ensure continuity of service.

Our commitment

When writing our corporate strategy for 2019 to 2024, it became clear that we needed to do more to use our influence and reach to support the most vulnerable in society.

We pledged that we would do more to end homelessness, making a series of commitments over the five-year period.

We have an ambition to provide:

•        Five new temporary accommodation services

•        A minimum of 50 Housing First homes

•        A ‘tenancy ready’ training module that supports people to approach getting their own home with skills and confidence

As a member of Homes for Cathy and Homeless Link we’re committed to working together to end homelessness.

* Housing First England, November 2018