Housing First Pilot Project launched in Dumfries

Earlier this month, a new Housing First Pilot Project launched in Dumfries.

Housing First is a concept developed in America which offers permanent accommodation to the most vulnerable and complexly disadvantaged people as quickly as possible and provides ongoing support to help them recover from any needs they may have, such as mental health and substance misuse issues.

The Scottish Government have been championing the roll-out of this approach across Scotland as part of their Ending Homelessness Together Policy.

The principles of Housing First are:

  • Access to permanent housing with no housing readiness requirements
  • Service User have choice and control
  • Individualised and service user driven supports for as long as needed
  • Housing and support are separate
  • A harm reduction approach is adopted

The pilot project will be for a period of 2 years and looks to home and support up to 20 individuals during that period. The Council’s Housing Options and Homeless Service have commissioned Turning Point Scotland to deliver the support element of the project with the Wheatley Group Ltd. committing to providing up to 20 homes via Dumfries & Galloway Housing Partnership.

Communities Committee Chairman, Councillor Andy Ferguson said:

“Housing First is an exciting new project in Dumfries and Galloway in partnership with the Council, NHS and Turning Point Scotland. This collaborative approach to supporting some of our most vulnerable clients in their own tenancies, is anticipated to make a real difference to the lives and future opportunities to these Service users.”

Vice Chairman, Councillor John Martin continued:

“If we can prevent repeat homelessness amongst this most vulnerable group, it ca bring stability to people’s lives, improve life chances and provide a new start,. This is significantly different to the traditional approach to helping this vulnerable group and we are pleased to be part of the roll-out of this across Scotland.”

This is a multi-agency project with mental health, drug and alcohol support being provided by the H&SCP and NHS Dumfries & Galloway. Other partners involved include the Scottish Prison Service, Police Scotland, Justice and Adult Social Work and the Alcohol and Drug Partnership.

Patrick McKay, Director of Operations at Turning Point Scotland said:

“Turning Point Scotland is delighted to have been awarded the Dumfries and Galloway Council Housing First contract and view this as an opportunity, alongside partners, in supporting 20 individuals experiencing homelessness and complex disadvantage to access and sustain their own homes.”

The criteria for the project are that the service user:

  • Demonstrates entrenched homelessness over a significant period of time
  • Is over the age of 26
  • Has a current or historical dependency on alcohol or drugs which may also be linked to mental health issues
  • A history of cyclical offending behaviour

Currently referrals into the project are via the Housing Options and Homeless Service but referral routes from other services and agencies will be introduced as the project develops.  Further information on Housing First in Scotland can be found here.

Anyone requiring further information around the Dumfries project can contact the Housing Options and Homeless Service by email: homelessdumfries@dumgal.gov.uk

DGHP, part of Wheatley Group, will be the main housing partner.

Olga Clayton, Group Director of Housing and Care with Wheatley Group, said:

“We do all we can to support people in greatest need in our communities, and particularly the homeless. The importance of everyone having a warm, safe and secure home should never be underestimated.We have worked closely with the Scottish Government and local authorities across the country on Housing First, which we’ve supported from the beginning. We look forward to working with our partners in Dumfries and Galloway on this ground-breaking initiative to help homeless people turn their lives around.”

Justin Murray, Deputy General Manager for NHS Dumfries and Galloway Mental Health, Psychology, Intellectual Disability, Specialist Drug and Alcohol, and Prison Health Care services, said:

“This is a brilliant and promising initiative that we are delighted to have the opportunity to support Turning Point with. Homelessness is often a result of complex disadvantage and sadly is prevalent locally and nationally. Action must be taken to enable people to get a home and sustain that in the longer term.  The Housing First initiative is a start towards making change happen.”

Tuesday, August 31, 2021