Housing First Belfast started as a pilot in 2013 working with individuals in Depaul’s Stella Maris project. All of the individuals that were supported had a history of alcohol dependency and all were caught in a cycle of failed tenancies or placements and homelessness. Due to the success of the pilot, Housing First Belfast was commissioned as an independent service in 2014.
Housing First is built upon the principle that housing is a human right. It focuses on first giving someone immediate access to a settled and secure home. This is placed above goals such as sobriety or abstinence. The model is specifically tailored for individuals who have experienced chronic homelessness and possess multiple complex needs.
The Depaul Housing First model is very effective in facilitating individuals to access and maintain a permanent home in the community and stop them from having to move around emergency services and sleeping rough. This is very often the case for people who have complex support needs that can include addiction and mental health issues. Very often the individual’s Depaul support through the Housing First service are deemed as unable to live independently and maintain their own home.
However through partnerships with the person themselves and other support services, using the Housing First case coordination model, tenancy sustainment is possible for many of the individuals who are referred to Depaul’s Housing First service. This wrap around, case co-ordinated approach increases the probability of tenancy sustainment.
The Housing First Belfast office is based in Nelson Street and the service operates in the greater Belfast area. We also work with individuals who are been released from prison and are at risk of homelessness.
Housing First Belfast is funded by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s Supporting People programme. Due to the nature of our service we work in close partnership with a wide variety of statutory and voluntary agencies.
Housing First Belfast accepts referrals from agencies who support individuals who are experiencing homelessness including the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Housing Rights, Community Addictions Teams etc.