HARP Launches New Housing Project For Long-Term Rough Sleepers

HARP Launches New Housing Project For Long-Term Rough Sleepers

HARP, Southend’s Homeless Charity, has this week announced a new project dedicated to empowering long-term rough sleepers to get off the streets for good.

Housing First Southend is the charity’s latest housing project, which brings the innovative homelessness solution Housing First to the area.

The approach differs from traditional service models by making an unconditional offer of a tenancy away from traditional shelters or multi-occupancy houses, and by providing intense and unconditional support for as long as an individual needs it.

Jackie Bliss, HARP’s Chief Executive, said: “Housing First Southend is an essential new service in our mission to help end rough sleeping in the town. We believe this project will enable a number of people to succeed in overcoming homelessness for good. Especially those for whom existing services are not suitable due to the complex nature of the multiple disadvantages they have faced in their lives. This includes some of the town’s most chronic, life-threatening cases of homelessness.”

It is proven that the Housing First model can work particularly well with entrenched, long-term rough sleepers, who have previously struggled to adapt to life in shared accommodation. Evidence shows that adopting a Housing First approach can allow people who have been socially excluded to thrive, and saves public funds in the long term through fewer instances of antisocial behaviour, police and ambulance call outs, hospital admissions and reduced offending.

The Charity is able to launch this project thanks to a grant of £240,000 from the Henry Smith Charity to help cover running costs for four years. HARP was one of just seven organisations across England and Wales to receive a portion of a £1.88 million funding pot dedicated to establishing Housing First projects where they are most needed.

Jackie continued: “Not only does this funding mean that we will be able to help people who have previously struggled to overcome homelessness, it will also play an essential part in our mission to ensure that no-one who was given temporary accommodation during lockdown has to go back on the streets.”

The model involves a much higher ratio of support staff to residents, which enables more intensive support for the complex challenges this group of people often face.

Jackie continued: “This project will require close collaboration between the local agencies involved in supporting residents. We have worked hard to build effective working partnerships with other local organisations including Housing Associations, probation service, drug and alcohol recovery specialists and mental health support, and we are grateful for the contributions of all the agencies involved in helping to make our Housing First bid successful.”

The first round of referrals has started with a meeting for local agencies involved in working with rough sleepers who may benefit from the new approach, which took place on 15th October. HARP led a Housing First Workshop for local agencies in January 2020, which helped to lay strong foundations for rolling out the project locally.

Landlords who are interested in taking part in this ground-breaking project can contact Rebekah Drake on 01702 415849.

Photographs attached: Alison Overton and Conor Spurgeon, HARP’s new Housing First Project Workers.

SAVS
rsavage@savs-southend.co.uk