Housing First for Care Leavers: Evaluation of the Initial Two Years of Haringey Housing First

In 2019, the London Borough of Haringey commissioned Centrepoint to establish and deliver a two year Housing First for Care Leavers pilot project. The University of York was commissioned by Centrepoint to undertake an independent evaluation of the early stage of the project. Through this, the evaluation found that housing first can act as an important means through which care leavers sustain tenancies and lead meaningful lives.

Executive summary

In 2019, the London Borough of Haringey commissioned Centrepoint to establish and deliver a two year Housing First for Care Leavers pilot project. Centrepoint managed and delivered the project, employing two full-time Housing First officers, as well as a part-time Service Manager and supporting up to 10 young people at one time.

The University of York was commissioned by Centrepoint to undertake an independent evaluation of the early stage of the project. This research included a literature review, project monitoring, qualitative interviews with five young people and 10 staff and other key stakeholders involved in commissioning and delivery of the project.

The evaluation shows that the Housing First project was successfully supporting a highly vulnerable group of young care leavers to sustain their tenancies in the local community. Given the high level of need of this group of young people, and despite the challenges of the pandemic and limited housing availability, the achievements with respect to tenancy sustainment and improving lives strongly indicates that a Housing First model for care leavers is worthy of replication in other settings

Key findings and recommendations

Findings

  • Reductions in reoffending rates: Five of the six young people rehoused permanently by the project had been involved in the criminal justice system at the point of referral. At the end of the pilot, five out of six young people were not involved in the criminal justice system.
  • Improved mental health: There were reports of improved mental health, reductions in substance misuse, as well as positive impacts on broader well-being including feelings of self-worth and improved confidence levels.
  • Education, employment and training: A number of positive activities were undertaken including: 2 full-time retail positions; 1 part-time hospitality position; 2 training placements, and one Level 2 qualification obtained.
  • Family reconnection and improved relations: Some young people were supported to enjoy improved family relationships with parents, foster carers, or siblings. Some were also supported to navigate complex or less positive relationships.

Recommendations

  • Stakeholders should set up formal, and close, inter-agency working relationships from the outset of a Housing First project, including a joint understanding of the overall philosophy of Housing First.
  • Housing should be made available as soon as possible after referral to enable young people‚Äôs lives to be stabilised as soon as possible.
  • Operators of Housing First should apply a needs-led, relational approach to supporting young people, and dedicated staff in engaging and supporting complex and vulnerable young people.
  • Relevant stakeholders should extend Housing First projects to more young people, increasing levels of support available on education, training and employment, other health and therapeutic interventions and leisure/group activities.

Read the report

Research commissioned by Centrepoint and conducted by Jo Dixon, Deborah Quilgars and Aniela Wenham of the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York. The paper is titled, 'Relationships First?'