Working together to secure the future of Housing First across Europe – Alex Smith

As Housing First continues to gain traction as a key part of the solution to end homelessness, we must think about scale-up and development at a national level.

Homeless Link is a national membership charity, representing over 900 organisations working to end homelessness in England.  The Homeless Link strategy, Shaping the Future Together has Housing First as a key focus:

Drive the scaling up of high-fidelity Housing First as a solution for people facing multiple disadvantage for whom traditional models don’t work

To fulfil this ambition, the Housing First England project was set up in 2015. Since this time, the project has seen some key achievements, including:

  • The development of the Housing First Principles for England, including a Principles animation Michelle’s Story
  • The development of a wide range of resources to support Commissioners, Support Providers and Housing Providers
  • The creation of an evidence base to promote the Housing First model
  • The establishment of a Housing First Movement, bringing people together from across the sector for presentations, workshops and forums
  • Supporting the development of three Housing First regional pilots in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and West Midlands Combined Authority
  • Advocating for funding commitments from Government to support the sustainability and scale-up of Housing First across England

A national network for Housing First can be a game-changing addition in efforts to advocate for the scale-up of high fidelity provision. In addition to England, there are national networks in many European countries, including those close to home in Scotland, Wales and Ireland as well as further afield in Finland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Italy. For all of these countries, the ‘national network’ is usually co-ordinated by one individual and it can be a lonely role, with a limited amount of peer support available. However, this has recently changed with the development of a pan-Europe National Networks Community of Practice.

The Community of Practice meets online and so far has met twice, with a third meeting planned. This community is already proving very beneficial as we work to better understand each other’s context, key successes and challenges. Some highlights include:

  • Hearing about Housing First Accreditation to support fidelity
  • The development of national strategies
  • Forging an alliance with Government
  • The delivery and scale-up of training

There remain challenges of course, and future meetings will continue to look at key areas such as sticking to fidelity, community integration and working in partnership. If you are interested in joining and don’t already receive an invite, get in touch with

Related articles

  • Transforming Homelessness Solutions in Spain: Community-Centred Approaches, Social Policy Transformation, and Deinstitutionalisation

    The opportunity presented by the Spanish Recovery, Transformation and Resilience fund in the framework of the Next Generation EU Funds included among its lever policies an initiative called a...

    Check it out here


  • WHAT ABOUT ME? – The first Housing First pilot project in Croatia

    Croatia is a nation of property owners, with a very small social rental sector in major cities and without a national requirement to provide general social housing. According to...

    Check it out here


  • “arriving home“ – How strategic alliances boost Housing First in Austria- Emine Özkan, Gerhard Schützinger

    Out of a state-funded project aimed at minimizing the rise of homelessness during current crises, Austrian NGOs have established a model with the potential to end homelessness in the...

    Check it out here