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Glasgow teams up with Social Bite for Housing First plan

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Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership has agreed to join forces with homeless charity Social Bite to deliver a significant step forward in the use of Housing First.

Backed by international evidence and also following successful trials in Glasgow, Housing First was recently endorsed at a national level following reports from the Scottish Parliament and also the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group, which was accepted by the Scottish Government.

Housing First involves the rapid rehousing of those affected by homelessness by ensuring wraparound support is in place from the outset of a permanent tenancy for people with multiple and complex needs.   The approach minimises the time vulnerable people spend in temporary accommodation and helps to maintain them in their new home.

The momentum towards adopting Housing First has also seen Social Bite secure 200 homes from the Wheatley Group across Central Scotland for the rapid rehousing of those affected by homelessness.

Following discussions with Social Bite, Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership has secured access to over fifty of these Glasgow-based Housing First properties to provide permanent accommodation for some of the city’s most vulnerable people.

Following agreement at the partnership’s Integrated Joint Board (IJB) meeting today, the Housing First initiative will also allow a long standing plan to decommission the Clyde Place Assessment Centre to go ahead without the need to build expensive replacement facilities – currently estimated at a cost of £20m.

Councillor Mhairi Hunter, Glasgow City Council’s City Convener for Health and Social Care Integration and also Vice Chair of the Integrated Joint Board, said: “Housing First has now been widely accepted as the way forward for supporting the most vulnerable people affected by homelessness.

“Glasgow has already been at the forefront of work on Housing First in Scotland.  But working with Social Bite has given us the opportunity to significantly step up our use of Housing First in Glasgow.

“Adopting this plan will help us to work more effectively with those people who are often caught in the revolving door between emergency accommodation and rough sleeping.

“Rapidly rehousing those with multiple and complex needs is a simple but radical approach to homelessness. The evidence shows that providing permanent accommodation with the right support as a first step rather than a last step helps people move on from homelessness.

“The council has been working extremely hard with our many partners to tackle homelessness in Glasgow. This push towards implementing Housing First in Glasgow shows what can be achieved by working in partnership to support those affected by homelessness.”

A major spin-off of this proposal is that land that had been identified for the replacement of Clyde Place is now available again for alternative purposes. The paper placed before the partnership’s IJB indicates that the previously earmarked site at Hunter Street could now potentially be used for the Heroin Assisted Treatment (HAT) programme and the planned Safer Drug Consumption Facility (SCDF).

Councillor Hunter added: “The plans for a HAT programme and a safer consumption room are very much part of the wider work to support people with multiple and complex needs. The case for such facilities remains as compelling as ever.

“We still need the UK Government to budge on its refusal to allow the creation of a legal framework that would allow the SCDF to operate legitimately.  But HAT can already be provided lawfully and identifying a potential site takes us a step closer to starting the process towards securing the licences needed for it to open.

“Introducing a HAT programme will help us target the highly vulnerable group of public injectors, who are at considerable risk of overdose and infection. It will also help to curb crime and anti-social behaviour as well the drug litter that blights many communities.

“Homelessness health services are already based at Hunter Street and so providing HAT there would be building on the existing service for vulnerable people.  We will engage with the community around the potential site as we look to develop this proposal further.”

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