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City marks World Homeless Day with Housing First success

Two Women Talking

The City of Wolverhampton Council, Wolverhampton Homes and the Good Shepherd are marking this year’s World Homeless Day on Sunday 10 October by raising awareness and celebrating the success of Housing First, a new approach in Wolverhampton to supporting those most at risk from homelessness.

As members of the West Midlands Combined Authority, the City of Wolverhampton Council and Wolverhampton Homes, the housing company responsible for over 22,000 council homes, pledged their support to Housing First in November 2019 as part of a pilot project. The Good Shepherd, a local support charity based on Waterloo Road was also approached to deliver the project in partnership.

Housing First originated in New York in the 1990’s and centres on the belief that through intensive, long-term support, entrenched rough sleepers can be helped to turn their lives around. It’s based on seven key principles, which include everyone having the right to a home and flexible support for as long as it is needed. Housing First achieved notable results in America and was later adopted across areas of Europe, including the UK.

Angela Barnes, Wolverhampton Homes’ Assistant Director of Housing Options said:

“Through Housing First, we aim to support the most vulnerable rough sleepers into permanent and stable accommodation. Working alongside our partners at the Good Shepherd, we focus on those with complex needs who may feel unable to access mainstream support services.

"Housing First marks a turning point in our fight against homelessness. The Housing First teams at Wolverhampton Homes and the Good Shepherd are doing fantastic work and the results speak for themselves. I urge anyone experiencing homelessness, or who knows anyone that is, to get in touch so we can assess their situation and provide advice and guidance around their housing options.”

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Assets and Housing, Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal, said:

“Nobody has to sleep outside in our city and nobody has to go hungry.

“The Housing First programme has provided some of our most long-term entrenched rough sleepers with intensive support and their own tenancies that many are now sustaining. The number of rough sleepers on our streets is significantly lower than before the pandemic and that is thanks to the partnership working in the city.

“Many of those who are homeless have complex needs, including physical and mental health problems. Our Public Health and Housing teams’ partnership approach with Wolverhampton Homes and homelessness organisations across the city is delivering positive results.

“We are supporting people into accommodation and giving them access to the services they need, meaning the number of rough sleepers on our streets is at an all-time low.

“However, there is still more to do, and the council continues to actively work with its partner agencies to find longer-term solutions for preventing someone from becoming homeless in the first place and rough sleeping in the city.”

Since the project began in November 2019, Wolverhampton Homes and the Good Shepherd have helped over 40 people off the streets and into settled housing, with some going on to secure employment within the city.

Tom Hayden, the Good Shepherd’s Head of Operations said:

“Housing First fits with our values and ethos as an organisation and we are delighted to be working with Wolverhampton Homes and the council to deliver this crucial service. The project has been hugely successful and has filled a gap in provision in the city.

"Our teams work with people to identify their personal strengths and any barriers to achieving their goals. Our support workers never give up and take active engagement to another level, meeting with people out in the community while demonstrating compassion and warmth.

“We’ve seen people who had experienced long periods of street homelessness go on to manage their tenancies, reconnect with their families, and achieve their personal goals.”

Adelle, Housing First client said:

“Whenever I need anything, I only have to phone and they’re there for me – no matter what. They’re brilliant. Anything that we need at any time, they help us.”

Adelle recently took part in an interview with one of Wolverhampton Homes’ Specialist Support Workers. The interview is available to view on Youtube.