More homeless people in Bradford are finding a way off the streets for good through a pioneering project, the Council says.

Designed to give people tailored support which emphasises control and choice, Bradford Council has spent five years adopting a new approach to homelessness. 

Traditionally, people would need to be free from addiction or other issues before being able to move into their home.

Under the Housing First scheme, people are offered secure housing which allows them to address their challenges from a stable place.

Giving people access to permanent housing, free from any conditions, has helped many finally “put homelessness behind them”. 

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A tent on the steps of the former Natwest on Bank Street

The initiative currently focuses on a specific group of people with histories of repeat homelessness, very complex needs and for whom other services have not been successful in ending their homelessness.

“My life has been turned round,” one service user said.

“I love my home and it's thanks to Housing First and my support worker who has been my rock.”

There have been a number of key achievements over the past year - including successful long-term tenancies, improvements for people’s health and financial stability, and better relationships.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Housing First scheme proving a success in getting homeless people off the streets in Bradford

In the past year, 19 of the 31 people in the scheme are now maintaining their own tenancies.

Four are housed with other partner agencies and eight are waiting to be housed.

The project’s workers have assisted clients with various aspects of lifestyle changes ranging from offending behaviour, financial improvement, to re-building family connections.

'Reduction of rough sleeping and repeat homelessness in Bradford'

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Transport and Planning, said: “As awareness of the Housing First model and its success has become more widespread, more councils are considering how they might offer the service. We can say with certainty and with pride that Housing First has contributed to the reduction of rough sleeping and repeat homelessness in the Bradford District.

“This approach offers people intensive, tailored and wraparound support which emphasises control and choice.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Nearly 2,000 housholds became homeless at the start of the pandemic

“And there’s no doubt it works. There were significant improvements to people’s mental and physical health, and 65 per cent of people also reported improvements in their relationships with family and friends. This shows people are able to engage again and that they have support networks going forward.”

What the numbers say

  • 69 per cent of Housing First’s participants have reduced their offending behaviour
  • 21 per cent have secured a reliable/legal source of income
  • 65 per cent reported improvements in their relationships with family, friends, and development of positive networks of support
  • 37 per cent of those with a treatment need have engaged with services to address their misuse of drugs and/or alcohol
  • 69 per cent have engaged with appropriate services for physical health
  • 54 per cent have accessed appropriate emotional and mental health services

“It means everything, what support and help should be, a very honest and reliable project. I can’t think of anything negative at Housing First they never let me down,” another service user said.

“It’s the best project, really good teamwork and they like to help,” one added.