What is Housing First?
9 July 2019
Homeless people often have very complex issues which can make it difficult for them to move away from the streets and into a permanent home.
Not everyone is able to address these issues in hostels and shelters. For those with the most complicated needs, shared living environments can make their problems worse.
This is why we’ve brought the Housing First model to Kent.
What is the Housing First Model?
It’s about moving people with the most complex needs straight from the streets into their own home. It sounds simple, but prioritising housing people over solving the long-term issues that led to them becoming homeless in the first place is a big change to the way many homelessness services are run. Typically, people move into a shared space where they are given help to regain the independence needed to manage a tenancy.
With somewhere safe and secure to live under the Housing First model, it's easier for people to address other issues they are facing like mental ill health or addiction.
Why does it work?
This approach is proven to help people who struggle to live in a hostel environment. It has had a dramatic effect in other countries, especially in Finland where it has virtually eliminated rough sleeping.
The people living in these homes can furnish them however they want. It’s about giving them a sense of ownership and empowerment so their new home feels safe and secure.
With people away from the chaos of the streets, we can help them address other issues they are facing. While this important work is taking place, benefits are used to cover people’s rent. If the person then finds employment, they can take over paying the rent – another giant step towards independence.
The change we've seen in residents
We’re already seeing a big change in the people who live in our Housing First properties. It’s widely agreed by organisations and experts around the world that this approach is the only way to end rough sleeping for good.
That's why we're aiming to introduce it to other parts of Kent in the near future.
There are currently seven Housing First properties in Maidstone, owned by Golding Homes and run in partnership with Porchlight. Porchlight and Maidstone Borough Council cover the cost of furnishing and decorating the properties.
In the past year, the government has spent £30 million on Housing First schemes in other areas of the UK.
If we are able to access government funding, we can ensure that our own Housing First scheme will run for as long as people need it.