whg joins mayor and minister to celebrate success of homelessness pilot

  • 24th March 2022

  • Corporate news

whg has joined Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing Eddie Hughes and West Midlands Combined Authority Mayor Andy Street to celebrate the success of a homelessness programme which has helped take hundreds of people off the streets.

The leading Midland’s housing association joined the pair as they met Walsall residents who had benefitted from the Housing First pilot, to find out the dfference it had made to their lives.

Backed by £9.6m government funding, the pilot is designed to give people who have experienced homelessness a home with intensive support for problems such as mental, psychological, or emotional ill health, drug or alcohol dependency, or experience of domestic violence and abuse. It has so far supported 515 people across the West Midlands.

Accommodation is provided by whg, GreenSquareAccord and a number of other social landlords while ongoing support is offered by GreenSquareAccord.

Ryan, who had been homeless for around five years before being offered a flat with whg through the scheme, said: “The project got me off the streets and gave me the confidence and independence to think as an individual.

“If it wasn’t for Housing First I would still be sleeping rough in Walsall Arboretum or in hostels.”

whg’s Corporate Director of Operations Fay Shanahan said: “By working with our partners in Walsall we have been able to make a real difference to the lives of people struggling with homelessness.

We have had huge success in supporting rough sleepers to sustain their tenancies, proving how the Housing First approach of combining a stable home with tailored support really works.”

Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing Eddie Hughes said: “Walsall has shown that the Housing First model works for people who have been stuck in a cycle of rough sleeping for years.

“The tenants we met today have shown the importance of having a safe place to call their own as they help to address the trauma, addiction, and mental health issues they may face and to begin to turn their lives around.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, added: “Since day one as Mayor I have made tackling homelessness and rough sleeping a top priority.

“That’s why I was so determined to secure a Housing First pilot for the West Midlands, and why I am delighted it has proved such a success with more than 500 rough sleepers helped into a home of their own.

“Where Housing First has proved such a breakthrough initiative is in the way in which it not only provides a home for people to call their own, but also the wrap-around support that allows some of society’s most vulnerable people to tackle their demons and move forward in life.

“We know the country’s finances are challenged and difficult decisions have to be taken, but I am hopeful that the pilot’s success in the West Midlands will lead to the Government extending our Housing First scheme and ultimately allow us to help more vulnerable people across the region into a home of their own.”

Paul Wright, Director of Specialist Support at GreenSquareAccord, said: “This innovative pilot scheme doesn’t just help homeless people into accommodation of their own, but it enables us to offer specialist and targeted ongoing support. Four years into the programme, we have housed and supported over 100 rough sleepers and have had no tenancy failures.

“The joined-up approach that has been adopted between the local council, landlords and us as support provider, all working together, has helped to make this a fantastic success.”

Councillor Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader of Walsall Council said: “We’re really proud of what has been achieved in Walsall to date in partnership with GreenSquareAccord and Walsall Housing Group.

“The Housing First model doesn’t just change lives for the better — it’s my firm view that it has saved lives too. Our strong partnership is key to this success story.”

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