More than 300 people with a history of rough sleeping have been helped off the streets and into their own accommodation thanks to the West Midlands Housing First pilot.
The programme is overseen by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Homelessness Taskforce and headed up by Birmingham City Council alongside local authorities in Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton, in partnership with housing providers and homelessness charities across the region.
Housing First is a Government-funded initiative of £9.6m over three years which aims to help people with a long history of rough sleeping by providing a home and the wrap-around support individuals need to re-build their lives and stay in their accommodation. In the West Midlands individuals are also given a small budget to make their new homes their own thanks to pilot funding and money donated through the Change into Action scheme. Latest figures show that thanks to the scheme 326 individuals have been supported into a place they can call home.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands said, “This is an important milestone for Housing First and proof that the scheme is having an impact. There is no doubt that this achievement has contributed to us reducing the number of rough sleepers across the region.
“Providing homes and support for people experiencing rough sleeping is a key priority and I look forward to seeing more people benefitting from Housing First across the region.
Cllr Sharon Thompson, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods, and chair of the WMCA Homelessness Taskforce Members Advisory Group, said, “This achievement is a real game changer and is the result of the hard work that has been put into this scheme across the West Midlands. However, we won’t stop here – there is still more to be done to get more people off the streets and back into society.”
The Housing First approach was initially developed in the US and is underpinned by the principle that everyone has the right to a home which provides them with security giving them a better chance of conquering health and other challenges. At the heart of the scheme are support workers called navigators who mentor and support individuals to turn their lives around.
Jean Templeton, chair of the WMCA’s Homelessness Taskforce, said: “This milestone is a wonderful achievement. Housing First provides a necessary and important step to getting vulnerable people off the streets and into long term accommodation with the right support.”
Housing First is keen to sign up more registered property landlords and private landlords with suitable properties who are being asked to email RayW@bvsc.org