Rough sleepers are amongst those who tend to “fall through the cracks” when it comes to mental healthcare services. For example, homeless people are almost 40 times more likely not to be registered with a GP than members of the general public (survey by Mori for the charity Crisis).
Housing First (see video below) is a person-centred approach that prioritises access to stable accommodation over the requirement for an individual to first address any other support needs they have. It focuses on those with complex needs and is successful for people experiencing repeat homelessness and multiple disadvantage, providing an independent home alongside intensive support that is free from conditions apart from the willingness to sustain a tenancy. Its aims include:
- Giving people who have experienced homelessness and chronic health and social care needs a stable home from which to rebuild their lives.
- Providing intensive, person-centred, holistic support that is open-ended.
Unlike traditional homelessness provision, which requires a person to prove they are ready for housing by placing conditions on them, Housing First aims to reach the group for whom this support is ineffective, or who fall through the gaps in services due to lack of a coordinated approach or because their needs are too mild or severe to meet a threshold.
Here you can watch a 4 minute video about Housing First:
 This includes those who have been street homeless for sustained periods, had repeated ineffective accommodation stays, or had contact with high cost public services, resulting in periods of rough sleeping. Housing First say that those concerned “typically experience multiple disadvantage relating to housing, physical and mental health, contact with the criminal justice system, education and employment, and social integration.”