A scheme to help rough sleepers off the streets in the West Midlands has been given a boost in Walsall.
Midlands-based landlord whg partnered with Walsall Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in 2018 to support the launch of Housing First West Midlands, one of three national pilots that aim to tackle homelessness.
Housing First is a Government-funded initiative of £9.6m over three years, which is overseen by the WMCA and the region's Homelessness Task Force alongside the seven local authorities, housing providers and homelessness charities in the West Midlands.
It offers individuals safe, secure accommodation, alongside intensive support to help them recover from complex health issues such as substance abuse and mental health difficulties.
After providing an initial six properties for the pilot, the housing association has announced it will be making an additional 40 properties available, as it works with Walsall Council to reach its target of providing support and accommodation to 88 homeless people through the initiative.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Homelessness is a critical and complex issue that requires a collaborative approach to solve. I am pleased that in the West Midlands not only have we adopted that approach, but that we are also seeing some success off the back of it.
“Housing First has already helped more than 80 homeless people into accommodation across the region and this number will only continue to rise thanks to whg’s commitment to supply an additional 40 properties for the scheme.
“whg deserve enormous praise for joining our fight to help tackle homelessness across the region, and I would encourage other housing providers to do the same as we all have a moral duty to tackle homelessness.”
Fay Shanahan, corporate director of operations at whg, said: “The increasing levels of homelessness that we are seeing is distressing and unacceptable. With the more visible forms of homelessness, such as rough sleeping, also on the rise, it is vital that we support initiatives such as these. Programmes like Housing First are a necessary and important step to getting vulnerable people off the streets and helping them into long term accommodation.
“We’re committed to working with WMCA, Walsall Council and other key partners to ensure that Walsall’s Housing First programme is a success, and are proud to be one of the first housing providers in the West Midlands to commit to Housing First on this scale.”
Councillor Adrian Andrew, deputy leader of Walsall Council, said: “This is great news and a real development in the longer term plans of the local Housing First model. whg already plays a significant role in supporting the town’s rough sleepers and has already helped us by providing an initial six properties. Agreeing to now increase this number to 40 is simply amazing. We thank them for their commitment and leadership on the Housing First programme.
“Without doubt these new homes will not only be life changing, but in some cases life-saving.”
In Walsall, accommodation is being provided by whg, Accord and Longhurst. FryAccord, which is part of Accord Housing Association, is also providing the support to all Housing First residents in Walsall.