A SCHEME to help homeless people off the streets and into social housing is set to be discussed today (Friday, September 14).

Headed up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the ‘Housing First’ initiative is aimed at getting 675 homeless people from across the region off the streets and into social housing over the next three years.

With a successful history in countries such as the USA, Norway and the Netherlands, the scheme is based on seven key principles:

i) People have a right to a home;

ii) Flexible support is provided for as long as it is needed;

iii) Housing and support are separated;

iv) Individuals have choice and control;

v) An active engagement approach is used;

vi) The service is based on people’s strengths, goals and aspirations;

vii) A harm reduction approach is used.

Back in October 2017 the Home Secretary announced the West Midlands would be one of the areas to pilot the scheme, receiving £9.6 million in government funding over three years.

“The majority of the investment,” notes a document due to be presented to the Combined Authority tomorrow (Friday), “is to provide intensive support that wraps around the person, who will be housed in mainstream housing – this is not ‘supported housing’.

“The rest of the investment will cover street outreach, nursing, substance support, accommodation access support, and crisis interventions.”

The 225 homes per year will be split between the seven local authorities, with Birmingham heading up the programme.

The projected annual breakdown of the 675 homes will see five in Dudley and 20 in Sandwell.

Speaking last month, the WMCA’s Mental Health chief Sean Russell gave details of exactly how the scheme will operate once it is up and running.

“We’ll identify the cohort of people that we’ll be working with, and we’ll then make them an offer around the housing provision and where we’re going to place them,” he said.

“We will then provide the wraparound support, so there’ll be a support worker who they’ll work with at both a peer level and as a support worker.

“So we’ll find them a house, make sure they’ve got some support to help keep them in the house, and then actually work with them around their care.

“We’ll provide help with mental health issues, physical issues, and substance of alcohol misuse, and then work with them about the deployment of skills, and actually how might we train those individuals.”

The initiative will be discussed by the constituent members at today’s WMCA board meeting, where it is expected to be passed.