New research on Housing First

“Housing First is highly effective in ending homelessness among people with high and complex needs, but it does not constitute a solution to single homelessness, or rough sleeping, in itself” according to a new report by the University of York, commissioned by St Mungo’s, published today.

The report, ‘Using Housing First in Integrated Homelessness Strategies: a review of the evidence’ is by Professor Nicholas Pleace, of the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York.

He finds that “international evidence shows that Housing First services need to be a part of an integrated homelessness strategy to be truly effective.”

The report was commissioned by homelessness charity and housing association St Mungo’s, one of the UK’s largest provider of Housing First services, with projects in nine locations supporting more than 100 people in their own homes. In total, on any one night St Mungo’s provides housing and support to 2,700 people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, as well as support to people trying to sustain tenancies, and people sleeping rough.

Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said: “Housing First absolutely needs to be part of an integrated national homelessness strategy, and this report clearly shows that.

“However, the international evidence comparing Housing First against Treatment As Usual (TAU) must be treated with caution when considering the UK context where harm reduction, service user choice and psychologically informed environments are already common approaches within existing homelessness services.

“While there is a lack of consistent, comparable evidence of what UK hostels achieve and this is something the sector must better address, we do know that a range of housing and support options are needed for people who themselves face a range of complicated personal issues in terms of finding and sustaining a home.”