Collaboration with The Salvation Army.
Housing First (HF) is an approach to ending homelessness that focuses on providing immediate, permanent, low-barrier, non-abstinence-based supportive housing for individuals with the lived experience of homelessness. It is defined by three primary characteristics: (1) moving people immediately into housing; (2) eliminating any preconditions for that housing as they relate to sobriety and compliance with mental health treatment; and (3) providing a range of supports for individuals once they are housed to help them sustain housing for the long-term. The foundation of HF is “the underlying principle that…people are more successful in moving forward with their lives if they are first housed” (Gaetz, Scott, & Gulliver, 2013, p. 12). Recently published evaluations of HF services concentrate on outcomes such as housing retention, health improvements, involvement with criminal justice system or general levels of satisfaction with the HF program. For example, Turning Point Scotland (TPS) piloted the first UK-based HF project (and one of the first internationally to explicitly target homeless people involved in active drug misuse) in Glasgow. The evaluation found that the project had been highly successful at retaining the involvement of service users; and reported excellent housing retention outcomes; improvements in physical health; and an overall reduction in the severity of dependence on illicit drugs. HF has received a lot of publicity and is a recommended approach, however, despite the positive reports, qualitative data is lacking. For many experiencing homelessness the idea of HF can be appealing, a different, revolutionary approach, but is it different in reality as well as in the concept? What is the experience of HF for the service users and how does it compare with their hopes and expectations of the service? This study aims to answer those questions by conducting a small exploratory qualitative study involving in-depth interviews with current HF service users and those providing the service in Glasgow over a period of 6 months. This study is being done as part of our ongoing partnership with our centre funders – The Salvation Army. The organisation has identified that they would greatly benefit from this small study and will be paying for the interview transcription. Stirling staff are undertaking the work as part of the funding received for the Centre (SACASR).