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October 29, 2020

Evidence shows support crucial to ending homelessness

Research released today by the Centre for Homelessness Impact shows that for many people experiencing homelessness, personalised support is crucial in order to successfully avoid returning to homelessness. 

The systematic review on accommodation, commissioned by the What Works centre for homelessness, and conducted independently by Campbell UK & Ireland shows that programmes in the US have found the most success when a housing offer is paired with support tailored to the needs of the individual. A successful support programme could include; the offer of unconditional services without judgement, help to find appropriate housing, access to advice from well-trained staff and relevant agencies collaborating to agree a shared set of desired outcomes. 

The review found that interventions offering the highest levels of support alongside unconditional accommodation were more effective in improving housing stability compared to basic support alongside unconditional housing.

Dr Ligia Teixeira, CEO of the Centre for Homelessness Impact said: “We’ve long known that individualised, tailored support is important to people experiencing homelessness. It is crucial to take people’s personal experiences, hopes and aspirations into consideration in order to understand what interventions will bring about the most positive outcomes for that person and we would encourage both local and national government to consider this when developing homelessness strategies. We’d love to see more rigorous evidence of these  programmes in the UK so the sector can deliver services that are truly of benefit to the people receiving them.  We're seeing some success in the UK from programmes such as housing first and rapid rehousing, but more evidence on the impact would be beneficial for the sector.” 

The studies in the review also suggested that the provision of basic services without support could do more harm than good. For those experiencing street homelessness, the results indicated that those who are only offered very basic provisions - such as a temporary bed and food for the night may find themselves worse off in the long run than those who remain on the street.  

Hannah Green, Lived Experiences Specialist at the Centre for Homelessness Impact said: “It comes down to choice, control and connections. No two people are the same and it’s important that everyone’s needs are taken into consideration when helping them. When I was in temporary accommodation I found the best support I received was from people who listened to me, tried to understand my experiences and took them into consideration when helping me.” 

The Centre for Homelessness Impact was founded in 2018 and aims to use evidence to solve the UK’s homelessness crisis by providing evidence of What Works. The full systematic review on accommodation is available to read here. 

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