A national project being piloted in Coventry and across the West Midlands region, helping people who are homeless and rough sleeping, is beginning to make an impact in the city.
Housing First is helping to provide both accommodation and wraparound support for up to 109 rough sleepers and those with a history of rough sleeping in Coventry for who other services have not worked.
The only requirement is that customers want to engage with the programme and make the first steps to changing their lives.
Along with The Liverpool City Region and The Greater Manchester Combined Authority, The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) received government funding to pilot the Housing First approach which supports vulnerable, homeless people with multiple and complex needs.
The new service in Coventry is operated by Midlands-based organisation Brighter Futures. The contract, worth £1.3m over three years, was successfully commissioned by Coventry City Council and aims to help to reduce Coventry’s growing homelessness numbers. It operates 24 hours a day for 365 days of the year.
Brighter Futures, has been supporting vulnerable people with complex needs since 1974 with homelessness services, accommodation and mental health support.
In Coventry it is working closely with partners at ARC CIC (a drug and alcohol outreach service),Coventry City Council and a range of other providers of services to rough sleepers in the city.
29 people have been currently accepted onto the programme in Coventry with five individuals/ people having signed tenancy agreements for accommodation with local housing providers.
A further five people supported through Housing First in Coventry are expected to move into permanent homes in the next few weeks and Citizen Housing, Orbit, Stonewater and the Accord group are helping ensure properties are identified quickly for those who haven’t yet been matched to a property.
ARC C.I.C a drug and alcohol outreach service set up in 2018 will provide support through experts with lived experience, people who have first-hand experience of complex needs such as sleeping rough, mental health, drug and/or alcohol issues.
Cllr Tariq Khan, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, said: “We can only address homelessness through partnership working and this is something that the city is absolutely committed too
“Preventing new people from sleeping rough is a key priority and once people are sleeping rough it’s important to understand the complexities of their circumstances and look to move them into some form of accommodation as quickly as possible.
“I hope that this is the first of many people who are supported through the scheme.”
Louise Morley from ARC C.I.C, said: “The wraparound support is key. There is no simple fix to solve rough sleeping but we have a very committed cross section of partners who want to make a difference
“The first thing is to treat people as people and with dignity.”
The overarching principle of the Housing First model is that housing is seen as a human right. Its approach places no conditions around housing readiness. Instead it provides housing ‘first’, as a matter of right rather than ‘last’ or as a reward’. It is based on the fundamental philosophy to provide a stable independent home and intensive personalised support to people who are homeless and who have multiple or complex needs.
Lynda Taylor, Housing First Manager in Coventry, said: “ The way in which local agencies and housing associations have embraced Housing First as a new way of working is fantastic. The service provides the most vulnerable and excluded people in our communities with a safe and stable place to call home. For many, this will be the first time that they feel they have choice and control in their lives, and that they can begin to plan for the future.”
Brighter Futures approach to working with people with lived experience who have all experienced multiple needs such as combinations of mental ill-health, homelessness, addiction and offending is at the heart of delivering a service that truly meets the needs of the people it is supporting.
The aim of the service is to not only reduce homelessness but to leave a legacy of increased employability and skills of local people, through training, experience and development. Brighter Futures paid peer mentoring model means no peer mentor will be at a financial detriment for taking paid work.