Housing First is effective if given adequate political support

The Housing First model is effective but needs more political support to increase its impact across Europe, a new Europe-wide study from the Housing First Europe Hub shows. Marcus Knutagård, researcher at Lund University School of Social Work is one of the authors of the new report that is released on World Homelessness Day, 10 October.

– Publicerad den 10 oktober 2019

Political support for Housing First, including for its integration into local, regional, and national strategies is key to obtaining funding and resources. Photo: Pixabay.com

On World Homelessness Day, the Housing First Europe Hub releases the report from its first ever Europe-wide study of the Housing First model, compiling data from 19 countries. Evidence from the study shows that the Housing First model is effective, but needs more political support to increase its impact across Europe.

As opposed to traditional approaches, where housing is an end goal after a number of treatment "steps", the Housing First model uses housing as a starting point. The Housing First in Europe study shows that while Housing First is a proven response to homelessness with good outcomes for people using the service, the spread of the approach is uneven across European countries. Political support for Housing First, including for its integration into local, regional, and national strategies is key to obtaining funding and resources.

Of the 19 countries surveyed:

  • Only eight countries reported strong political support;
  • Only three countries reported that existing funding is reliable;
  • Just two countries reported having sufficient funding.
  • 15 out of 16 countries where Housing First is already operational reported that there was not enough housing available;
  • Eight of these same 15 countries indicated that it was always difficult to find housing.

In Europe, Finland is the best example of how systematic change can drastically reduce homelessness. It is the only country to report Housing First as the main strategic response to homelessness at national level, and the only country in Europe that has a track record of reducing homelessness.

The report reveals the stark gap between Finland and the 18 other countries studied.

Link to the report

The Housing First Europe Hub website

For more information

Marcus Knutagård
Senior lecturer, Lund University School of Social Work
Tel: +46 73 062 66 82
marcus.knutagard@soch.lu.se