A new Housing First project has launched in three Greater Manchester boroughs, aimed specifically at preventing homelessness for families fleeing domestic violence. The project is being run by homelessness charity Threshold, part of the Jigsaw Group.

Funding has been granted by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), enabling Threshold to pilot the project for a year initially.

The UK has seen a dramatic increase in the number of families becoming homeless in recent years. Domestic abuse is the tenth reason nationally for homelessness, and in higher areas of deprivation within Greater Manchester such as Tameside, domestic abuse is the fourth reason for homelessness.

Housing First is quickly becoming a nationally and internationally solution to help tackle homelessness and Threshold has been pioneering this model for some time working with Homeless Link and The University of York with evidence to show its success.

It is also recognised that the majority of the hidden homeless are women (50%), in many cases fleeing domestic abuse (source AVA). Many families fleeing domestic abuse do not access refuge accommodation and therefore remain at risk.

Housing First experts

Threshold has already enjoyed success with its original Housing First service, which was one of the country’s first gender-specific projects focusing on female ex-offenders. Nearly all the women Threshold worked with had also suffered some kind of domestic abuse and after receiving support, re-offending rates were cut to zero.

The charity is now able to take its learnings from the initial pilot, as well as the expertise gained from running a number of refuges for women fleeing domestic violence to implement this new programme.

The project is already supporting 27 families and Threshold has seen massive demand with more than 69 referrals in the first few weeks. All families will be helped into permanent accommodation whilst providing them with intensive, wrap-around support.

In addition, Threshold has hired a Recourse Worker who specialises in helping those who have no recourse to public funds, such as those on residence permits with certain stipulations.

The funding has allowed Threshold to employ five additional front line support workers and a manager to run the Housing First service, which is based upon the 7 ‘Pathways to Housing’ principles set out by Housing First founder Sam Tsemberis in the 1990s. These principles are:

The project is still in its infancy, but initial outcomes are already showing improvements in negative family relationships, social isolation, prescribed medication and mental health and wellbeing.

Housing First recently made headlines when it was announced in the Autumn budget that the government would provide £28million to fund three major pilots in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Liverpool.

Anyone who works with victims of domestic abuse who are at risk of becoming homeless can refer their clients to the service by emailing HousingFirstTeam@www.jigsawhomes.org.uk

National award for women offender project

Threshold’s Housing First project to support women offenders who are at risk of homelessness is a finalist in this year’s Homeless Link Excellence Awards.

The project has been shortlisted in the ‘Innovation in housing’ category which recognises different and enhanced housing offers for people who have traditionally been ‘hard to house’. Read more here.