Housing

There is "no time to waste" with Housing First in 2020

The Scottish Government have revealed that 173 people have been helped into accommodation by their Housing First Pathfinder programme

Social housing

The Scottish Government has hailed the success of its Housing First Pathfinder programme and vowed to work towards eradicating homelessness in 2020.

Housing First offers rough sleepers stable accommodation with wraparound support and is a key foundation of the government’s action plan to tackle the problem.

The latest figures revealed that 173 people have been permanently homed through the scheme, which is funded by the government, Social Bite and Merchants House Glasgow, in Scotland since April 2019.

In December, The Big Issue saw the impact the programme is having first-hand when we met with Housing First tenant Christopher Middlemass who was delighted to have his own Christmas tree in 23 years. He said that “having this tenancy is the most important thing in my life. This is my cornerstone and my foundation to take my life forward.”

The programme is just one of the measures of success on the Scottish government’s action plan to eradicate homelessness. Currently, 39 out of 49 measures were progressed in the first year, and the Scottish government has committed to fulfilling the full plan in 2020.

Crisis CEO and chair of the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group Jon Sparkes said: “The Scottish Government has demonstrated in the first year of the action plan that it is determined to tackle and end homelessness. It is clearly following through on the commitments it made when the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group was created.

“There is no time to waste. Ending homelessness is urgent. It has a devastating impact on individuals and families, and is costly to society as a whole.”

On the tails of Scotland’s success, St Mungo’s are calling for an increased focus on Housing First in England.

St Mungo’s new research with Salford University found that Housing First schemes in Brighton and Hove and Westminster show a positive impact and a “striking” success in helping people to remain in tenancies. Their findings “strengthen the case that Housing First is an effective solution to rough sleeping”, a conclusion that Finland’s success with the scheme will back up.

The charity has also called for the UK government to reverse the £1bn funding cuts if they truly want to fulfil their manifesto pledge to end rough sleeping by 2027.

Howard Sinclair, St Mungo’s chief executive, said: “This shocking billion-pound-a-year funding gap must be a wake-up call for the Government. If the Government does not act to restore funding to previous levels, it is likely to miss its target of ending rough sleeping by 2027.

“The people we work with – many struggling with poor mental health, substance use or domestic violence – are often being left with no option but to sleep rough. With nearly 600 people dying on our streets or while homeless in a year, this really is a matter of life and death”.

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