'Housing First' is a seductive policy, but doesn't tackle underlying issues, warns Veterans Aid

Posted On: 
16th March 2017

CEO of Veterans Aid Dr. Hugh Milroy responds to the announcement that Communities Secretary  Sajid Javid is "particularly interested" in the Housing First programme.

‘Housing First’ is a seductive and appealing concept for politicians and policy makers but a quick ‘Google' search shows that it is not regarded as being universally successful.  It certainly doesn’t tackle key underlying issues such as poverty and won’t be able to overcome  poor NHS mental health provision or exclusion due to poor education. “Housing First” is well intentioned but after some 20 years in the sector I have doubts about any one-size-fits-all approach.  Not decrying any initiative that tackles chronic rough sleeping but I do wonder how much the cold weather in Finland influences their outcomes. Surely we need to dismantle the bigger societal issues that put people into this position and focus on prevention!  Warehousing human beings must be avoided at all costs. Let’s make sure we end up with an effective “public policy” not another example of “public futility” because we put all our eggs-in-one-basket. I have no doubt it will work for some chronic rough sleepers but it is not a panacea.  It needs affordable and seamless social care to succeed but that in the end may just remain an aspiration.  Setting aside my obvious preference for ‘prevention ahead of intervention’, Veterans Aid has been operating a highly successful approach “Welfare to Wellbeing” prevention model for ex-service personnel in crisis that Mr Javid might well like to look at before he purchases a ticket to Finland.