The value of supported housing
Gemma De Brito, Assistant Director of Homes and Wellbeing
The National Housing Federation recently published their research findings* into ‘The value of supported housing to homelessness prevention, health and wellbeing'.
We know the value that supported housing** delivers, both in a high quality of service, value for money and, most importantly, the positive, life-changing outcomes it achieves for the people it supports.
But, despite the extraordinary outcomes we witness on a daily basis, supported housing continues to have a low profile and the sector is often misunderstood, resulting in reduced focus and investment. In the current cost of living crisis, supported housing services are more vital than ever before, and the lack of investment is being felt even more acutely.
The research explored the direct impact supported housing has on homelessness, health and wellbeing, and sought to understand the specific challenges the sector faces.
The key findings of the report concluded:
- Good quality supported housing has a significant positive impact on its residents’ health, wellbeing and sense of social connection.
- Supported housing plays a critical role in reducing homelessness and relieving pressures on the social care, health, criminal justice and housing sectors - ultimately lessening demands on the public purse.
- Short-term and transitional supported housing is playing a key role in reducing and/or preventing higher-risk forms of homelessness, such as rough sleeping.
- Supported housing residents have complex needs: 9 out of 10 have at least one health condition or disability (including substance misuse, mental ill-health, learning disability/autistic spectrum disorder and physical conditions), and half of them are experiencing more than one of these conditions.
- Were it not for supported housing, there would be an increase in core homelessness of around 41,000 people, with a further 30,000 people at significant risk of future homelessness (the cost to the public purse of long-term homelessness has been estimated at over £40,000 per person per year).
Despite these positive outcomes, the report also concludes that supported housing continues to face two significant challenges; the reduction in funding over time, and the low availability of suitable, affordable housing, limiting people’s move-on options.
To address this challenge: We call upon decision makers to ring-fence and increase long-term revenue funding for housing-related support to ensure spending at least matches the £1.6bn per year allocated to local authorities in England in 2010, and ask councils to commit to long-term funding plans.
At NCHA we support 1,000 people within our support housing services. We are proud of the services we deliver, and the dedicated colleagues that make such a positive difference to people’s lives. But it is getting increasingly difficult to maintain our high quality standards. Reduction in funding is, hands down, the great challenge we face, risking services not being effective or even closure.
To secure increased revenue, combined with the reassurance of long-term funding, would make the biggest and most positive impression on our services and delivery.
*The research was independently delivered by Imogen Blood & Associates in partnership with the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York. They surveyed over 2,000 people living in support housing, and conducted in-depth interviews with 30 sector professionals.
**Supported housing is defined as accommodation alongside support and supervision to help people live as independently as possible in the community.