Providing housing as a first priority for city’s most vulnerable

Providing housing as a first priority has proven an effective way of breaking the ‘revolving door’ cycle that many clients described being trapped in. It provides a safe space to address issues that can’t be addressed on the streets.

The West Midlands Combined Authority was awarded Housing First Pilot status by the Ministry for Homes, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The pilot will seek to accommodate and support 617 of the most vulnerable individuals across the West Midlands to substantially reduce levels of rough sleeping.

In September 2018 BVSC, through Birmingham Changing Futures Together, became official partners in the roll-out of the new Housing First Pilot across the West Midlands with two paid posts commissioned by Birmingham City Council as the Lead Authority. Our role is to support the roll-out of Housing First ensuring that the fidelity of the model is maintained.

There are seven Key Principles:

  1. People have a right to a home;
  2. Flexible support is provided for as long as it is needed;
  3. Housing and support are separated;
  4. Individuals have choice and control;
  5. An active engagement approach is used;
  6. The service is based on people’s strengths, goals and aspirations;
  7. A harm reduction approach is used.

(Housing First England, Homeless Link).

The model

Since the launch, Housing First has housed 53 individuals across the West Midlands Combined Authority area. Additionally:

  • Procurement processes are under way
  • Standardisation of job descriptions, referral routes, eligibility criteria has been achieved
  • There has been ‘in principle’ support from a number of Housing Associations

Early Adopter Projects

  • Walsall (FryAccord) – 25 individuals have been engaged, building upon their existing housing first pilot project
  • Birmingham (Shelter) – 25 individuals engaged through BVSC Changing Futures Together Programme

Goals for the next phase

  • Commitment to collaborate to secure tenancies for the most vulnerable individuals accessing the housing first pilot.
  • Support the designing out of homelessness across the region.
  • Help shape future provision and models for delivery of quality housing for vulnerable adults.
  • To enable access to affordable, good quality housing.
  • Provide a strong contribution to the three-way relationship between the landlord, tenant and intensive support.
  • Provide an inclusive response in preventing and reducing homelessness for this very vulnerable and therefore potentially most excluded cohort.
  • Support to access appropriate mental health interventions.
    Ensure that the work has a strengths based focus and that an appropriate level of quality data is collected to test and prove the model as well as demonstrate change.

For more information about Housing First in the West Midlands contact Harpal Bath or Sharne Maher on 0121 643 4343.