Housing First and 'permanent supported housing'

Housing First and 'permanent supported housing"

In the US and Canada, different models of HF are emerging, and especially different models of permanent supported housing (PSH), which is the accommodation element in HF’s rapid housing placement and support philosophy.   These remain true to the fundamentals of the HF approach; but they are then free to interpret the housing element in very different ways.

In particular, many areas are developing "congregated care sites"  - partly simply for reasons of costs (of support staff), and partly for concerns at the risks of loneliness and increased vulnerability for those housed alone, that are now being identified as a worrying problem for such provision in the US. (See the page on "PIEs,  'scattered site' and 'networked' housing"  HERE for a discussion of such issues).

But in the UK, permanent supported housing tends still to be seen as meaning individual, isolated tenancies (what are called, in the US and Canada, “scattered site PSH”), and 'congregated care' sites are found primarily in our 'hostels'.    It would appear, then, that for the moment, we have an odd contrast. The PIE framework is more readily applicable in PSH in the US, and more applied in transitional housing in the UK.

This is in part a reflection of the short-termism in funding – typically a maximum of 2 years - that has characterized “housing related support” in the UK, ever since the expansion of support services under the Supporting People programme.  This severely limited the extent of permanent support in housing, under the homelessness service umbrella, and now requires the proponents of Housing First to seek new funding partnerships for extended support episodes. These are currently proving as difficult to establish in the UK as they are in the US.


NB: Such short-termism in housing related support services' funding may also help to explain why the belief persists that being or becoming a PIE means having a psychologist to ‘do’ the informing. A trained psychologist is an expensive resource that must be targeted on the more immediate transitions, and in the UK, this more intensive resettlement work has mainly been offered in short-term services, in our 'hostels' (ie: in 'transitional' or 'recovery' housing.).

(See the training video, “Does it take a psychologist to make a PIE?”, for a critique of this view).