Housing First What is Housing First?Housing First is an evidence-based approach to successfully supporting homeless people with high needs and histories of entrenched or repeat homelessness to live in their own homes. It has been widely adopted across the US, is central to the national homelessness strategies in Canada, Denmark, Finland and France, and is growing in popularity in countries including Italy, Sweden, Spain and, increasingly, the UK. The overall philosophy of Housing First is to provide a stable, independent home and intensive personalised support and case management to homeless people with multiple and complex needs. Housing is seen as a human right by Housing First services. There are no conditions around ‘housing readiness’ before providing someone with a home; rather, secure housing is viewed as a stable platform from which other issues can be addressed. Housing First is a different model because it provides housing ‘first’, as a matter of right, rather than ‘last’ or as a reward. Seven clear Principles lie behind the Housing First Model: Principle 1: People have a right to a homeThis means…• Housing First prioritises access to housing as quickly as possible• Eligibility for housing is not contingent on any conditions other than willingness to maintain a tenancy• The housing provided is based on suitability (stability, choice, affordability, quality, community integration) rather than the type of housing• The individual will not lose their housing if they disengage or no longer require the support• The individual will be given their own tenancy agreement Principle 2: Flexible support is provided for as long as it is neededThis means…• Providers commit to long-term offers of support which do not have a fixed end date; recovery takes time and varies by individual needs, characteristics and experiences• The service is designed for flexibility of support with procedures in place for high/low intensity support provision and for cases that are ‘dormant’• Support is provided for the individual to transition away from Housing First if this is a positive choice for them• The support links with relevant services across sectors that help to meet the full range of an individual’s needs• There are clear pathways into, and out of, the Housing First service. Principle 3: Housing and support are separatedThis means…• Support is available to help people maintain a tenancy and to address any other needs they identify• An individual’s housing is not conditional on them engaging with support• The choices they make about their support do not affect their housing• The offer of support stays with the person – if the tenancy fails, the individual is supported to acquire and maintain a new home. Principle 4: Individuals have choice and controlThis means that they…• Choose the type of housing they have and its location within reason as defined by the context. • Have the choice, where possible, about where they live• Have the option not to engage with other services as long as there is regular contact with the Housing First team• Choose where, when and how support is provided by the Housing First team• Are supported through person-centred planning and are given the lead to shape the support they receive. Goals are not set by the service provider Principle 5: An active engagement approach is usedThis means…• Staff are responsible for proactively engaging their clients; making the service fit the individual instead of trying to make the individual fit the service • Caseloads are small allowing staff to be persistent and proactive in their approach, doing ‘whatever it takes’ and not giving up or closing the case when engagement is low• Support is provided for as long as each client requires it• The team continues to engage and support the individual if they lose their home or leave their home temporarily. Principle 6: The service is based on people’s strengths, goals and aspirationsThis means…• Services are underpinned by a philosophy that there is always a possibility for positive change and improved health and wellbeing,relationships and community and/or economic integration• Individuals are supported to identify their strengths and goals• Individuals are supported to develop the knowledge and skills they need to achieve their goals• Individuals are supported to develop increased self-esteem, self-worth and confidence, and to integrate into their local community. Principle 7: A harm reduction approach is usedThis means…• People are supported holistically• Staff support individuals who use substances to reduce immediate and ongoing harm to their health• Staff aim to support individuals who self-harm to undertake practices which minimise risk of greater harm• Staff aim to support individuals to undertake practices that reduce harm and promote recovery in other areas of physical and mental health and wellbeing.