Housing First

Housing First – a solution to chronic homelessness?

Date published: 
21 May 2019

The London Assembly Housing Committee has been investigating a scheme called Housing First, which gives people who are chronically homeless a home without any conditions.

Following getting a place to live, they’ll get additional support such as drug and alcohol support, education or training.

Key Facts

  • The numbers of people seen rough sleeping across a minimum of two years has risen from 2474 (32% of rough sleepers) in 2014/2015 to 3028 (40% of rough sleepers) in 2017/18.
  • The chronically homeless are likely to have high or complex support needs such as mental health challenges, drug and alcohol dependency.
  • This increase in the numbers of people in London who are chronically homeless has created a need for better service provision for these people. Short term solutions like a hostel bed for the night, do not solve the underlying causes of their homelessness.

The Housing First Model

  • The idea behind Housing First is that by providing a chronically homeless person with housing first, it becomes a foundation on which the other needs can be addressed, and the process of recovery can begin.
  • Examples of additional support given to service users: signing up to a GP, mental health services, adult learning, addiction treatment or help with getting benefits
  • The first UK Housing First pilots were set up in Glasgow and Camden in 2010. In 2018 the national Government provided £28 million of funding for three Housing First pilots in Greater Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands
  • In London there are small scale Housing First programmes running in 11 boroughs. The first Housing First pilot in London was commissioned by Camden council and established in the borough in 2010

Case Study: Tim's story


  • The Mayor and the Government should provide longer term funding for Housing First schemes.
  • The Mayor should establish a pan-London Housing First lettings agency to source accommodation for chronically homeless people.

The Letters

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