Scaling Up Housing First Pilots – Drivers and Barriers
There has been an increased interest in Housing First services in Sweden over the past few years. The model was first developed in New York by the organization Pathways to Housing. The growing interest in Housing First as a response to ending long-term homelessness is seen not only in the US and Canada, but also in Europe. One reason for this is the mass of evidence showing high housing retention rates with Housing First services as compared with traditional services. This article aims to analyse the drivers and barriers that hinder or facilitate the scaling up of Housing First pilots. The research question is: Is it possible to incorporate lessons learned from the Housing First pilot into the existing system of homelessness services? In other words: Is it possible to put new wine into old bottles?
This is an ongoing research project on Housing First services in Sweden, with the specific focus on the Housing First pilot in the city of Helsingborg. The empirical material consists of in-depth interviews and focus group interviews with project managers, support workers and other stakeholders. The main results show that leadership is essential and a key driver for the scaling-up process. Another driver is the importance of repeating the vision and goals of the idea to keep the story alive. A third key driver is that the staff has identified the Housing First approach as a relative advantage and believes in the idea. The main barrier to the scaling-up process lies in the structures that maintain and surround the social housing programme.
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