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Transforming lives through GM Housing First

Charlie Norman, Chair of Greater Manchester Housing Providers, talks about the partnership's impact on GM Housing First

At the heart of GMHP’s ethos is a belief that everyone in Greater Manchester has the right to a decent and safe home - something that is fundamental to people’s ability to move forwards positively and build a better quality of life. That’s why GMHP has been so proud to be integral to the success of the Greater Manchester Housing First (GMHF) programme, which celebrated its fourth year of supporting homeless people in GM earlier this year.

The Greater GMHF partnership has helped to support more than 350 people with multiple and complex needs who are homeless or at risk of homelessness into a home of their own, with tenancy sustainment rates of almost 80%. A fantastic achievement we can all be proud of.

And of course, what’s behind those statistics is the most important thing: the lives of hundreds of people turned round, transformed, and potentially even saved.

Accommodation offers are the lifeblood

GMHF is a housing led partnership including GMHP members, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, homelessness charities and support providers which uses housing as a platform to enable people with complex needs to begin recovery and move away from homelessness.

I’m delighted that the GMHP partners involved have played a key role in GMHF’s success. Accommodation offers are the lifeblood of the project, and the vast majority of people referred to GMHF have been placed in a home provided by the GMHP partners who volunteered to pledge properties to the programme.

Across the fourteen GMHP members supporting the project, 326 homes have been pledged to GMHF. Any they have also pledged commitment, flexibility, and a real spirit of partnership working and collaboration that has been crucial, so a huge thank you to them.

Regional approach is vital to success

Of the 350 people housed, 60 have moved into a home in a different local authority area from where they were referred. Enabling this additional choice is crucial to success, and is only possible through our regional approach and the close collaboration across GMHP partners and the 10 local authorities.

Choice and control are key principles of the Housing First model, and providing the option to be housed across Greater Manchester gives people more chance of finding the right home for them, enables people to move closer to specific services, family members or other support networks based in a different locality, or in some cases move away from a challenging and destabilising environment in the area they have been based.

This choice gives each and every GMHF tenancy its very best chance of success, and demonstrates why our regional, GM-wide approach delivers such an effective response to homelessness across the city region.

A lasting legacy

Beginning in 2019 and commissioned by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the GM project was one of three areas selected to test the Housing First model at scale – alongside the Liverpool City Region and the West Midlands.

After the success of the initial three-year pilot, the partnership hit the target to rehouse 330-people, achieving a tenancy sustainment rate of 81 per cent. Additional funding from Government has thankfully now been secured to continue delivery until March 2024, with the emphasis on continuing to support people their recovery along with ensuring the legacy of the programme across the region.

At GMHP we have confidence in the model; it works for us, for local authorities, and for the vulnerable people we help, and we look forward to continuing our support for GMHF over the next 12 months, and hopefully beyond.


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