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Housing First in Scotland - Topic Briefing

By: Shelter Scotland
Published: April 2019

Housing First in Scotland - Topic Briefing

Key points

• This paper provides information on and sets out Shelter Scotland’s view of current developments on Housing First, the approach pioneered by Dr Sam Tsemberis in the 1990s to resolving homelessness through the immediate provision of housing, accompanied by tailored, wraparound support.

• Housing First is now a core tenet of the Scottish Government’s housing policy and a major focus of political attention.

• Housing First is part of an overarching approach, “Rapid Re-housing”, whereby it is now expected that local authorities will take steps to reduce time spent in temporary accommodation and to move people rapidly into settled accommodation.

• Shelter Scotland supports the principles of Housing First and believes that it has a role to play in alleviating multiple and complex needs homelessness. However, we have several questions about the planned delivery and also how it can be delivered at scale across Scotland.

• We want to see Housing First being carefully developed, fully resourced and properly delivered, to avoid the risk that an underfunded and under-developed programme fails to both sustainably support some of the most vulnerable people in our society and undermines the credibility of the Housing First approach.

• There have been a number of Housing First projects around the world and some small-scale projects in Scotland. These projects have generally been successful, but to varying degrees.

• Several local authorities in Scotland have now pledged to run local Housing First projects including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Stirling and Aberdeen, with around 800 homes earmarked for use.

• Housing First is intended specifically for households with multiple and complex needs. Especially in view of the significant investment required to properly support Housing First, there is a need to ensure that other people affected by the crisis of homelessness are not treated as being of lower priority.

• Shelter Scotland strongly believes that many other structural actions need to be taken to create a system which effectively deals with homelessness.