PIEs, 'scattered site' and 'networked' housing

Group support in sustaining recovery

Those re-housed after homelessness, or after some form of institutional care, may find themselves either entirely on their own. In the terminology of Housing First services, this is called 'scattered site' housing.

There appears to be some concern that some individuals struggle to establish themselves in solitary housing. Isolation itself may be experienced as painful, added to the past problems and vulnerability, and the intimidating novelty of being responsible for bills and relations to neighbours etc.  Isolated users are also vulnerable to exploitation.  There is anecdotal evidence of 'cuckooing' - others taking advantage of a vulnerable individual's home to conduct a variety of nefarious activities.

More intensive individual professional support may then be needed, where peer and community support might have been as effective or more, and at considerably lower cost.

Alternatively some  individuals might find themselves living with, or nearby, individuals who have had similar life experiences. There are many possible versions of this, from 'congregated ('single site') housing, to fully integrated 'core and cluster 'models, to looser networks such as the Clubhouse. (Some of these should be seen as 'transitional' accommodation, where moving on is part of the expected trajectory; but some is, in effect, permanent supported housing - at least, it may be as permanent as the individuals themselves feel they need it to be.)

To cover such a wide range of provision, we avoid here any more specific technical terms, and talk more generally of 'networked housing'.   Some of these would be seen as 'transitional' accommodation; but some is, in effect, permanent supported housing - at least, it may be as permanent as the individuals themselves feel they need it to be.


Who needs it?

There seems to be no real clarity as yet over who does best in scattered site housing, and who benefits from a more shared living situation. At least, there is so far little research on the issue. This is probably because the defining principles of Housing First - which have defined the evidence base so far - do not take any position in this issue.

Yet with younger people, and in the military, shared living is the norm, and using the benefits of shared living for recovery may seem more natural. For women - and any others - escaping domestic violence, the validation of finding you are not alone may be particularly powerful.  It may be that scattered site housing is more suited to those who wish to move on, and who do NOT want to be reminded of where they have been.

In therapeutic communities of all kinds, by contrast, it is the strength in peer support to tackle a common problem in a group and community setting that is the basis for participation.   In 'recovery housing', the bond of a shared past problem may similarly be helpful in maintaining improvement.  But it may just as well be the wish to move on from some past problem that may unite people in recovery, even where the problems may differ.

It appears that the potential for community amongst street-dwelling homeless people can be remarkably strong. There are accounts for example of street drinkers who, though housed, return to drink on the streets with their buddies, for companionship


Camps as campuses

Deliberate attempts to create communities in homelessness camps - often in the face of opposition from neighbours and local authorities - have a chequered history, and are often too short-lived to be formally researched. Nevertheless there is growing interest and support in the US for a pubic health approach, with 'in-reach' into such encampments, and 'safe lots' (ie: parking lots given over to use by those living in vans.

It may be that a community work approach to engagement can be effective here. Such observations as we have are so far largely anecdotal; but this is primarily a problem in the limitations of funded formal research, which does not seek to answer these questions. deliberate attempts to elicit the views of housed former homeless people in communities in transitional or permanent supported housing should offer opportunities for research on what is most welcome and/or effective, and for whom.

Further background reading/listening/viewing

PIElink pages on Housing First and PIEs

Housing First and PIEs - how do they work together? : HERE

Is Housing First itself a PIE approach? : HERE

(Balancing) principles and pragmatism in PIEs and HF : HERE

Housing First and PIEs - where parallel lines meet? : HERE

Housing First, PIEs and the Pizazz (Special Interest Group) : HERE

Housing models, Housing First and PIEs in the US and the UK : HERE

Housing First and PIEs in Europe : HERE

Housing First in the 'new world' : HERE


Other related PIElink pages

'Recovery Housing' in the US and the UK : HERE

PIEs, 'scattered site' and 'networked' housing : HERE

Outreach, in-reach and pathways : HERE





The characteristics of successful supported housing programmes : HERE

Shared housing and long term mental illness : HERE

Mirror neurons and the Clubhouse model : HERE

Risk and loss in disrupting street community social networks : HERE

Communal living as the agent of change : HERE

They do things differently there: PIEs, Housing First and the New Social Psychiatry, Parts 1-3:  HERE

Public health and social housing : an natural alliance? :  HERE



A Home of Your Own: Housing First in Finland : HERE

Single site housing first for chronically homeless people : HERE

Brendan Plante on outreach and community : HERE

Community organisation in tent cities in the US : HERE

Camp Take notice : HERE

A discussion with veterans village CEO : HERE

A living room in a library helps people through their darkest times : HERE

The Y-Adapt framework (YPeople's Clubhouse model) : HERE

Queens Gardens : HERE

Confronting the 'leaving care' crisis : HERE

Dismantling the 'leaving care' crisis : HERE


Yet to come: 

Street drinking and still belonging (podcast)

On drop out rates podcast

Joanne on preparing for independent living

Leonie Boland on OT, visual imagery and making a home : HERE

Therapeutic communities and "Belongingness"

Psychiatrists' Policy statement on Recovery : HERE