Since the Ministry of Homes Communities and Local Government commissioned the pilot back in 2019 as one of three national pilots to test the model at a larger scale than had been done before in England, the partnership has grown in every way.
From the original seven partners we now have 11 and have overcome the hurdles of setting up a new infrastructure and working with services and housing providers across GM to support the most vulnerable people in the region.
Firstly, let’s deal with the figures. In the first two years on the pilot we had:
• 379 people referred to the pilot
• 324 are on the programme at the end of Year 2
• 42 housed for more than six months
• 79 housed for a year or more
• 224 people total supported into permanent accommodation
• 89 per cent tenancy sustainment rate.
But the figures, impressive as they are, don’t tell the full story.
They don’t speak of the hundreds of hours with engagement and liaison between services; it doesn’t speak of the effect of the Coronavirus on the supply of housing and the ability of the workers to provide support to those on the programme and it doesn’t speak of the behind-the-scenes efforts to continually improve, adapt and up-scale the pilot as we progress.
Over the last year we have added four new partners into the pilot, after completing a responsive commissioning exercise and held an exhaustive tender process to appoint new delivery partners – all virtually. These new partners were all commissioned in response to emerging needs and with the aim of bringing specialist skill sets in to the partnership.
And thanks to the work of our co-production panel and their values-based selection process, we have recruited 44 new workers – virtually - to ensure the pilot could continue on its mission to support people into safe and secure homes.
The aim of the pilot is to test the Housing First model at scale, and given the challenges brought about by the pandemic it has been tested in ways no one could have envisaged.
Our ways of working have had to be adapted due to the restrictions brought about by the virus and workers have had to be inventive and flexible in the ways they have supported their people.
All that effort and hard work has translated into the figures you can see above.
Now we are into the third year of the pilot our mission is clear and singular – make the pilots permanent.
The Greater Manchester pilot, and our counterparts in the West Midlands and Liverpool, are proving that the model can work at scale and provides value for money.
We have lots of examples of people who have been able to turn their lives around thanks to the Housing First approach who had fallen through the gaps in the systems and been failed in the past.
And it’s the learning from our co-production panel that helps us to continually improve our service and build up the ever-growing evidence base that the Housing First can and does work and should be central to the UK Government’s strategy to tackling homelessness and entrenched rough sleeping.
Together, the Greater Manchester Housing First pilot is making a difference.