In a groundbreaking stride towards eradicating homelessness, Bradford Council’s innovative Housing First initiative has achieved significant milestones over the past year, demonstrating successful long-term tenancies, improved health, enhanced financial stability, and the rekindling of relationships.

Launched as a pilot project in 2018, the Housing First initiative is now entering its fifth year, showcasing its effectiveness in addressing the needs of individuals with a history of recurrent homelessness and complex issues that other services have struggled to resolve.

Unlike traditional models that necessitate individuals to be addiction-free before securing housing, Bradford Council’s Housing First adopts a pioneering approach by prioritizing access to secure housing without imposing any conditions.

Over the last year, out of the 31 individuals enrolled in the scheme, 19 are now successfully maintaining their tenancies, four have been housed with partner agencies, and eight are awaiting accommodation. Project workers have played a pivotal role in guiding clients through lifestyle changes, including addressing offending behavior, improving financial situations, and rebuilding family connections.

Key Achievements Include:

  • Reduced Offending: 69% of participants have successfully reduced their offending behavior.
  • Financial Stability: 21% have secured a reliable/legal source of income.
  • Re-establishing Relationships: 65% report improvements in their relationships with family and friends, fostering positive support networks.
  • Substance Misuse: 37% of those with treatment needs have engaged with services to address drug and/or alcohol misuse.
  • Physical Health: 69% have sought appropriate services for physical health improvement.
  • Mental Health: 54% have accessed suitable emotional and mental health services.

Bradford Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Transport and Planning Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw said: “As awareness of the Housing First model and its success has become more widespread, more councils are considering how they might offer the service. We can say with certainty and with pride that Housing First has contributed to the reduction of rough sleeping and repeat homelessness in the Bradford District.

“This approach offers people-intensive, tailored and wraparound support which emphasises control and choice. And there’s no doubt it works. There were significant improvements to people’s mental and physical health, and 65 per cent of people also reported improvements in their relationships with family and friends. This shows people are able to engage again and that they have support networks going forward.”

The Housing First model, specifically designed for individuals requiring substantial support to overcome homelessness, addresses multiple and complex needs concurrently, such as substance misuse and mental health issues, ensuring a comprehensive and effective solution to a longstanding problem.