A project designed to help homeless people into stable tenancies before then tackling their problems is helping them make a fresh start, those behind the scheme say.
Housing First Dundee is run by Transform Housing Development, addiction support charity Addaction Dundee, the Salvation Army and homeless charity the Dundee Survival Group.
It involves giving homeless people with “multiple complex needs” – combinations of problems such as repeated homelessness, health issues and substance use – immediate help into a tenancy so they have somewhere to live.
The model was first developed in the 1990s under the premise that everyone has a right to housing, and that giving people a stable home and help with the associated paperwork allows them to direct all of their energy into recovery.
It is a compassionate approach and a far cry from the usual “staircase” of temporary housing homeless people are expected to climb in order to get a tenancy.
Dave Barrie, service manager at Addaction Dundee, says services now admit that “hostels aren’t a good environment for people to address their substance use”.
Mr Barrie added: “If you’ve got 20 people, the majority of whom use alcohol or drugs, and house them all together it’s not going to end well for a lot of people.”
The Housing First approach has been adopted as the national standard in Finland, where it has been linked to the only drop in homelessness of any EU nation.
Earlier this year the Tele reported on the launch of the scheme, which is supported by the charity Social Bite and the Scottish Government.
In March it was supporting two people with tenancies – now it’s 22.
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Emma Paterson, project co-ordinator for Housing First Dundee, believes helping people into a tenancy gives them a grounding from which they can tackle problems.
She said: “The onus is on us to take care of the practical side of things, to help maintain the tenancy while they can focus specifically on recovery. We’ll be with them regardless. We don’t mind if they’ve got drunk or used drugs and if they get evicted we’ll find them a new tenancy. Our support isn’t conditional on anything. There’s no failure here.”
Quotes from this article originally appeared on Addaction Voices, the blog of the charity Addaction. The original piece can be read in full at medium.com/addaction-voices.