A programme which helps tackle homelessness in Walsall has been given funding to continue its work for a minimum of a further two years.
FryAccord, which is part of Accord Housing Association, along with Walsall Council launched the Housing First programme as a pilot in November 2017, and has so far helped 25 long-term homeless people find somewhere to live in Walsall, supporting them to stay there.
The additional funding will also allow the partnership to “continue to support” these 25 and help up to a further 63 homeless people in the area, with Council Outreach Officers working closely with FryAccord to identify people who may need support.
Once a person is identified and they are happy to receive help, they will be given a tenancy, and FryAccord will provide them with the support they want, with accommodation provided by Accord and several other landlords in a partnership approach.
The service is said to not only offer people a home, but also flexible support, links to mental health and substance abuse support services, as well as helping people register with a GP.
Housing First in the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is funded through a £9.6m grant from the government.
First launched in Finland, Housing First works with councils, housing associations and support groups.
One person, who was sleeping rough for seven years, used the service during the pilot.
He said: “I was homeless for seven years, and the staff at Housing First have looked after me. I couldn’t ask enough of Housing First – it is too good to be true.”
On the scheme, Chris Handy, Accord CEO, said: “Tackling homelessness is at the heart of what we do, and Housing First is a brilliant programme.
“We are pleased that we have been successful in our bid meaning we will be able to continue providing and expand this service in Walsall.
“This is a really important bid for us as it meets one of our critical aims in terms of supporting rough sleepers into independent tenancies.
“Our pilot has seen some really positive customer outcomes and we now have the opportunity to replicate our service offer with a number of opportunities arising across the Midlands.”
Councillor Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader of Walsall Council, added: “The success of Housing First stems from its unique working partnership with the WMCA (West Midlands Combined Authority) Walsall Council, local housing groups and the private sector. We are pleased that this relationship is set to continue.
“The project has already supported a considerable number of vulnerable rough sleepers in the borough and will continue to offer them hope and appropriate support so they can make meaningful change in their lives that we are committed to continue.”