Sajid Javid: I want to roll out ‘Housing First’ in Britain

The government's communities secretary Sajid Javid believes Britain should mirror Finland's radical 'Housing First' approach, which simply gives rough sleepers stable accommodation as the first step in homelessness prevention

Sajid Javid believes Britain should adopt the groundbreaking ‘Housing First’ approach in the country’s fight to end homelessness.

The radical concept, first introduced in Finland, places homeless people in permanent housing before they become afflicted by issues such as addiction and mental illness. It removes any initial complicated tests, and in essence trusts individuals to turn a corner independently, with support provided further down the line.

Speaking at a special House of Lords reception for Big Issue sellers and supporters, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government spoke of the action required to tackle the “serious” scourge of rough sleeping.

“Just one person that is homeless is one too many,” Javid said.

“Clearly there is a serious problem in this country. We need to do something new and bigger about it. One of the things I’ve really focused on is the idea of ‘Housing First’, something I went to see in Finland and have learned from, and something I want to bring to and roll out in Britain.”

Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

A report, published earlier this year by EU housing organisation Feantsa, named Finland as one of the only EU countries not in the midst of a homelessness crisis. Javid visited the Scandinavian country in March following the Centre of Social Justice’s recommendation that the UK government consider the experimental approach.

Just one person that is homeless is one too many

Javid also highlighted the Homelessness Reduction Bill, which became an official act of parliament in April, and reiterated the Conservative election pledge to “halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminate it by 2027”.

He also praised work of The Big Issue, from the revolutionary launch of the magazine in 1991 to the wider social footprint felt across Britain today.

“I’m delighted to welcome you here to parliament,” Javid told the room of magazine vendors, staff and supporters. “I first came across The Big Issue when I first came to London with my dad and I saw someone selling the magazine. We bought a copy and I always have since.

“I’d like to thank the Big Issue vendors for being here, to thank those that have faced adversity and taken the opportunity to help themselves. It’s great to meet you all.

Lord Bird, Sajid Javid and Big Issue vendors

“I want to acknowledge how much the group has grown since. As an organisation, with the Foundation and Big Issue Invest, you have given a voice to so many people and their concerns, and helped them with their challenges.

“Today is an opportunity to you thank you all for what you do. The work you do transforms people’s lives.”