The end of the year is always a time for reflection. Recently we launched our first ever strategy, which looks ahead at how we will drive change over the next five years. It sets out what we will do, and how we will work with others, to make a decisive move towards ending homelessness for good.
It details how we will create change in three ways: by making evidence accessible and filling the gaps, supporting data and evidence to be applied in practice and mobilising a learning culture. As we start to deliver our strategy, the team share some of their highlights of the last 12 months and look ahead at what’s to come against the three pillars of our work.
In June we joined the What Works Network, which is dedicated to embedding robust evidence at the heart of policy-making and service delivery. The Centres in the network cover policy areas which account for more than £250 billion of public spending.
“Better evidence-informed policymaking and practice is crucial to ending homelessness for good. Acknowledging the limits of our knowledge – what will work, when, and for who – opens the door to a powerful and pragmatic approach to dramatically increase the impact of our efforts. This is what the ‘What Works’ movement is about which is why we were delighted to join the Network earlier in the year - a key highlight of 2019. In 2020 we look forward to working closely with other Centres to help drive prevention upstream.”
– Dr Ligia Teixeira, Chief Executive Officer
Policymakers must have good information on which to base their decisions about improving the viability and effectiveness of government programmes and policies. Today, as highlighted by our early work, too little evidence is produced to meet this need.
In 2019 our Evidence Tools highlighted that in the UK there has been very limited use of rigorous systematic reviews and examples of evaluation using experimental and quasi-experimental methods, such as the Rough Sleepers Initiative and Troubled Families Programme, are still rare.
This shortcoming needs to be addressed. In 2020 we will be releasing the results from our first trials and systematic reviews, update the Evidence and Gap Maps, and continue to identify the most pressing evidence needs about how best to help people experiencing homelessness or at risk.
“I’m particularly excited to start disseminating the findings from our first systematic reviews in homelessness. They focus on interventions in housing, access to health services and discharge. Systematic reviews can provide reliable answers about what works, why and for whom – knowledge that is invaluable in times of tight resources.”
– Guillermo Rodríguez-Guzmán, Head of Evidence and Data
In cities across the UK, local leaders lack the tools to use data and evidence to improve how best to prevent and tackle homelessness. Our recently launched What Works Community responds to this need: an initiative designed to help local authorities improve residents' lives by using data and evidence effectively to tackle and prevent homelessness.
By providing robust capacity building support, access to expertise, and peer-to-peer learning to cities, we are helping local areas to better use data and evidence to engage the public, improve services, evaluate progress, and fund ‘what works’. The What Works Community programme is run in collaboration with three partners: the Behavioural Insights Team, Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Government Excellence, and IDEO. By mid 2020 our ambition is to scale the programme to other medium sized cities across the UK.
“My highlight of 2019 has got to be the What Works Community pilot residential. It was the moment where a lot of hard work from all of us – both from the CHI team and the participating local authorities – came together. The energy, optimism and engagement from everyone in the room was so exciting. It felt like everyone was really ready to push themselves to learn, adapt and create change.”
– Dave Russell, User Experience and User Research
In early 2020 we will launch the new SHARE homelessness framework and reporting platform. Developed in partnership with the Office for National Statistics, it draws on current literature, a large consultation and existing data to identify a set of indicators and core measures.
“The platform puts data at people’s fingertips and I’m really looking forward to seeing how people use it. We’re also really excited for its potential to improve the data architecture for homelessness and help people take the bird eye’s view of the issue.”
– Stina Jonsson, Product Manager
We spent much of the Summer between Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London launching our strategy in all four corners of the UK at our inaugural Impact Forums. We brought together a line-up of the foremost leaders from homelessness policy and practice, people with lived experiences of homelessness and other parts of society to openly share, collaborate and innovate by exploring the theme ‘Ending Homelessness For Good’.
“I attended the Impact Forum in London as a delegate when I was still working at the Chartered Institute of Housing. But for me, it was the moment when I started to genuinely believe that ending homelessness sustainably is an achievable ambition. I’m really looking forward to collaborating with those working at national and local levels, funders, service providers and those with lived experiences to drive the culture shift required to realise that goal.”
– Faye Greaves, Head of Policy, Practice and Implementation
Our book, Using Evidence to End Homelessness, is now in production, with copy editing currently underway. It brings together a bipartisan group of government leaders, academics, radical thinkers and activists to advocate for an evidence-based approach to tackling homelessness. It is due to be released in the Spring of 2020.
“It’s been amazing to work with such a committed group of people from across the political spectrum — in government, academia and the third sector — to really tackle the issue of what works in homelessness. We’re delighted with the contributions and we can’t wait to share it with everyone in 2020.”
– James Cartwright, Editorial & Engagement
We’re looking toward the future with enthusiasm. The evidence is clear: better use of data and knowledge accelerates impact. In 2020 we will continue to optimise new and existing programmes by partnering with organisations and individuals, and move beyond developing a proof of concept to focussing even more on creating a society that leaves no one behind.
This is set to be another busy year for CHI. To keep abreast of developments, sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter. We are also on the look out for new talent to join the team – see opportunities here.
At-a-glance evidence of what works to end homelessness
Summaries of existing research into how to relieve and prevent homelessness are to be published in a series of short papers by the Centre for Homelessness Impact.
Money spent on housing support could be used more effectively, new joint report finds
A new report by the Chartered institute of Housing (CIH) and the Centre for Homelessness Impact highlights that money spent on housing support could be used more effectively.
An evidence-based approach to tackling homelessness health inequalities
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how social inequality has implications for public health: rates of infection were much higher in communities where overcrowded households were more common. We know that the most extreme form of housing inequality is homelessness and it is here that health inequalities have, for decades, been greatest.