Homeless Link introduces the key ingredients of Housing First

Monday, 31 October 2016 - 2:48pm

Homeless Link launches the key principles for providing Housing First services in England and explains the importance of adhering to them to ensure success.

If you’ve ever baked a cake and tried to substitute or leave out a particular ingredient you’ll know that when taking it from the oven, it may resemble some kind of cake, but it just won’t look or taste right. The ingredients are all important to ensure success. Leave one out and you won’t get a very good cake.

Housing First is like a cake made up of ingredients, or ‘principles’. Each principle exists for a reason, and together they form a whole, successful service. Leave one out and you’ll get a service which is like Housing First, but that just won’t work as well as it should.

Developing the principles

Our Housing First England project champions a national movement of Housing First services, which are proven to be effective in helping people with multiple and complex needs. As part of this, with support from Nicholas Pleace at the University of York, we’ve been working on a set of principles that are essential for providing successful Housing First services in England. These will be launched at a series of events Housing First - from principles to practice, in Bristol, London and York this month.

The principles are closely aligned to the USA Pathways principles for Housing First, and those defined and contextualised by the European homeless organisation, FEANTSA, for the use of the approach across Europe.  

The principles for England

  1. People have a right to a home
  2. Flexible support is provided for as long as 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

You can find more information about what the principles mean in practice and how they were developed in our guidance booklet, Housing First in England: The Principles.

All ingredients are needed for success

The Pathways, and subsequent FEANTSA, principles are based in evidence conducted on Housing First services. The knowledge gained from these studies, of how and why Housing First works, has determined what key ingredients make the approach effective. Studies show that how closely a service adheres to the principles (its fidelity), determines how successful it will be in supporting people to maintain their housing and address their other needs. The higher the fidelity to the principles, the better the outcomes for the residents.

Using our guidance

If you’re already delivering a service using the Housing First approach, we encourage you to read the guidance and self-assess how closely it adheres to the key principles. If you have high fidelity, great; keep going and ensure you review this occasionally, especially when obstacles arise. Adapting your service to overcome challenges may mean that, without intending to, you move away from some of the principles.

For services that may have lower fidelity, we’ve included some operational guidance of what each principle means in practice, and we hope you’ll find it useful for making changes to develop and improve your service.

If you are currently commissioning, designing or about to start providing a Housing First type service we recommend that you work to ensure these principles underpin the project.

Whatever stage you’re at, feel free to contact us for support or to be put in touch with other members of the Housing First movement in your area.

Contact Joanne Prestidge at joanne.prestidge@homelesslink.org.uk.

Download the guidance booklet, Housing First in England: The Principles.

 

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Jo Prestidge

Innovation and good practice project manager

Jo is an innovation and good practice project manager, leading a range of projects and training including Housing First England and Trauma Informed Care.