A new project has been launched on the Isle of Wight which will help rough sleepers with complex needs get off the streets and into a place they can call home.
The Housing First model uses a property as a starting point, rather than the end goal, and allows people experiencing homelessness to get continuous support for their needs once they are housed.
The homelessness charity, Two Saints, will be delivering the year-long scheme in partnership with the Isle of Wight Council, which successfully secured grant funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to pilot it here.
Jamie Brenchley, the council’s service manager for housing needs and homelessness, said: “Housing First is an approach that offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individuals experiencing homelessness.
“The scheme is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a safe place to live in order to address other issues in their lives.
“This is an exciting local development and provides the Isle of Wight with a vital tool that is evidenced nationally to support homeless individuals with complex needs rebuild their lives.”
The Housing First model is widely used in America and similar elements that do exist in the UK have shown notable success.
In Europe, such projects have been successful at ending homelessness for at least eight out of ten people in the scheme. This is compared to hostel-based accommodation which has resulted in between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of users with complex needs leaving, or ejected, before their homelessness is resolved.
Councillor Clare Mosdell, the council’s Cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said: “The basic underlying principle of Housing First is that people are better able to move forward with their lives if they are first housed.
“This is as true for people experiencing homelessness and those with mental health and addictions as it is for anyone.
“Housing is provided first and then supports are provided, including physical and mental health, education, employment, substance abuse and community connections.”
Initially, the project will work with a small number of individuals, however, going forward the council plans to deliver all homelessness services based on an accommodation first principle.
All referrals to the service will go through the council’s Housing Options team.
To ensure the successful implementation of the service, Two Saints will be working in partnership with other registered housing associations and stakeholders on the Island.
Speaking about the scheme, James McDermott, regional director of Two Saints, said: “Housing First offers secure, long-term accommodation with intensive support to individuals who have complex needs and have experienced chronic, recurrent homelessness. The Housing First model starts with the principle that ‘people have a right to a home’.
“We are pleased we are expanding our service to the Island in partnership with the Isle of Wight Council.
“Two Saints has been successfully delivering Housing First services since 2014 and currently provide the service in Berkshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and Test Valley.”