Institute of Global Homelessness

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Using Housing First to End UK Street Homelessness: Opportunities and Challenges. This presentation focused on the practical application of Housing First as a solution to long term and repeated rough sleeping (street homelessness) among people with high and complex needs in the UK. The UK provides free and universal health care, has access to a significant stock of social housing and retains both a relatively extensive welfare system and homelessness service sector, yet street homelessness levels are increasing and there is evidence of a long-term, high need, population caught in a ‘revolving door’ pattern, which includes periods of rough sleeping. Although pioneering work funded through the Rough Sleepers Initiative greatly reduced street homelessness in the UK, progress has been less evident in recent years. Existing service models have met with mixed results, prompting growing interest in Housing First from cities, the devolved administrations and central UK government. A succession of Housing First pilot projects have produced positive results, ending long-term and recurrent rough sleeping and homelessness among people with complex needs. However, issues around coordination, strategic integration and funding ‘sunsets’ have created logistical problems in scaling up Housing First on a meaningful basis and reducing the long-term and recurrent rough sleeping problem still being faced by the UK. The presentation argues that Housing First in the UK faces similar risks as were experienced in the USA, with inconsistency in definition, funding, deployment and strategic integration leading to mixed and sometimes only limited impacts on entrenched forms of rough sleeping. UK debates about ensuring Housing First is delivered with sufficient fidelity to the North American model are explored, including the risks centred on pressures to modify and dilute the model to allow for the limitations in the extent and durability of current funding arrangements. The issues around fidelity, i.e. the importance of replicating the strengths of Housing First, while allowing for differences in the UK context, are explored drawing on the results of evaluations of 12 Housing First projects in England, two of which are ongoing. The paper also explores the blended funding arrangements that may complement and also replace direct public subsidy of Housing First in the UK, alternative forms of financing that may have applicability to other contexts in which finding sufficient, sustainable funding for Housing First is also a challenge. Finally, the presentation examines the importance of integrating Housing First within a wider preventative and housing-led strategy, looking at how Housing First can prevent as well as reduce street homelessness and considering how Housing First should work alongside other service elements within integrated homelessness strategies, to end street homelessness in the UK.
Period6 Jun 2017
Event titleInstitute of Global Homelessness : Ending Homelessness in your city
Event typeConference
LocationChicago, United StatesShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Homelessness
  • Housing First