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Greens boost support for innovative ‘Housing First’ scheme that helps prevent long term homelessness

housing first

30 properties secured as part of scheme that is proven to help support and re-house vulnerable people with complex needs

Some of the city’s most vulnerable rough sleepers will be able to benefit from targeted, appropriate support and accommodation after Green Councillors secured backing to expand the ‘Housing First’ scheme in Brighton and Hove. 

Housing First, which was first introduced in the city under the first Green council, is a programme that provides support to homeless people failed by traditional approaches, and who may otherwise remain on and off the streets for a longer period.

Under the scheme, people who have not been prevented from homelessness through normal routes of accommodation, such as hostels or supported accommodation, are provided with accommodation within which they receive specialist support. This includes help managing mental and physical health needs and work towards rebuilding their lives.

Studies show that the support provided to people as part of the scheme can be up to five times more effective in preventing homelessness than other approaches. Evidence from widespread roll-out of the scheme in Canada revealed that 90% of previously homeless people were still in stable housing one year after being housed through Housing First.

Brighton and Hove City Council received the highest sum of government money awarded to any individual council as part of the ‘Next Steps’ accommodation programme bid – which included a request for extra funding for Housing First placements in the city.

The roll-out of Housing First is also supported as part of a joint commitment with the Labour group to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis. Building on help from the government grant, the council will now be able to provide housing and support for an estimated 65 rough sleepers, which is over 5 times more than were being helped 18 months ago when the Greens first pledged a trebling of provision as part of a manifesto pledge to tackle homelessness.

Councillor David Gibson, Green co-chair of Housing Committee, commented:  

“Housing First is a scheme that has proven to be one of the best approaches to help entrenched homeless people with complex needs break the endless ‘revolving door’ cycle of homelessness.

“Since joining the council I have relentlessly pushed for an expansion of Housing First. The Green manifesto, in addition to the joint Labour and Green housing programme, pledged to treble the previous provision of 12 places. I am therefore delighted that Housing Committee has now agreed that we can progress this scheme and buy a further 30 properties and set up funding support.

“We now expect to be able to achieve around 65 placements for multiple and complex needs rough sleepers over the next three years; with support in place to give them the best possible chance to turn their lives around.

“The decision made by Housing Committee means 30 rough sleepers brought in off the streets by the council in the pandemic will be rehoused securely and long-term. I can’t express how pleased I am with this, but there is still a long way to go to sustainably rehouse all the rough sleepers that were willing to come in during the pandemic – particularly as not all accept offers of accommodation and will need extra help. We remain focused on this and will continue to lobby for support for schemes we know can offer the help that many need to avert rough sleeping.”

Councillor Alex Phillips, homelessness lead and member of the Housing Committee added:

Accommodating rough sleepers needs to be done appropriately, and for many people, it’s not simply about providing them with four walls. That’s why I’m thrilled that today we have more than doubled what is known as Housing First.

“The Housing First approach is much more holistic than simply providing accommodation, but it goes much further by providing people with complex needs a secure tenancy with a long term and flexible package of support around them. It is this approach that helps people to turn their lives around. This is excellent news, and hopefully we will build on it further with many more Housing First units in the future.”

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