In for the long term

A new scheme in Manchester offers homeless people intensive support to remain in their new accommodation, reports Ciara Leeming

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A radical approach offering long-term homeless people with complex needs unconditional access to housing is being piloted in Manchester.

In a departure from existing schemes, which initially offer night shelter and hostel beds to the most vulnerable homeless people, Housing First prioritises securing a stable, long-term tenancy from the outset. The thinking behind the approach – which has had positive results in other countries – is that, with support, tenancies can be sustained long term even by those who have failed in other types of provision.

Launched in April by Inspiring Change Manchester (ICM) – a Big Lottery-funded project led by Shelter – the pilot aims to support 30 of the city’s most entrenched rough sleepers over the next two years. They will be found a self-contained tenancy and offered as much support as needed to stay in their new homes and tackle any underlying problems contributing to their homelessness.

International research

ICM programme manager Paul Pandolfo said: “The traditional approach to accommodating homeless people is a stepped process – people access things like night shelters, then hostels or supported accommodation and eventually a tenancy. International research indicates the success rate for stepped approaches is around 40 per cent – success being where someone gets and maintains a tenancy.

“For Housing First schemes the success rate has been between 80 and 90 per cent, and it has worked in countries from the US and Canada to France and Denmark.”

Housing First will be one of the options available for people already accepted onto the Inspiring Change programme who want to find permanent accommodation and who have few alternatives.

A panel will consider if someone is eligible, and will approve a personalised financial package for each person that will enable them pay the deposit and rent in advance, and to access furniture and household goods to make their accommodation a home.

A staff member will act as a link between tenant and landlord – who may be from the private or social rented sectors – and participants are offered access to support and recovery communities, as well as peer mentoring and training schemes.

York University’s Centre for Housing Policy will evaluate the pilot to show how it compares financially with stepped approaches.


The pilot was designed in consultation with homeless people who have multiple needs. They visited Housing First services in Glasgow and Newcastle to see what they felt could work in Manchester.

Pandolfo said: “Our pilot, which is only just taking on its first residents, will consider whether Housing First, run true to core principles, works in a city with high demand on social and private renting, and increasingly visible street homelessness.

“The people we are looking to work with are those who have had the most difficulty engaging with support services in the past. It’s a very person-centred approach so we try to identify what the barriers have been in the past and help them make permanent changes in their life.”

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