Following the success of the pilot of the UK's only Housing First for Youth programme for care experienced young people, Rock Trust is expanding Housing First for Youth into Edinburgh.
The project will provide 17 care experienced young people with permanent homes as part of the Scottish Government's Edinburgh Housing Pathfinder.
The pilot project, launched in 2017 in West Lothian, and delivered in partnership with Almond Housing Association, provided seven care experienced young people with permanent, fully furnished tenancies, alongside high-intensity support. Since the programme began, 100% of the young people involved have not returned to homelessness, and thanks to a funding boost from Nationwide Building Society, three more young people in West Lothian will soon move into their new homes.
Scottish Government data (2016) shows that at least 21% of young people become homeless within five years of leaving care. Some experts suggest this figure could be as high as 30–50% due to unreported homelessness. Many young people leaving care may have already experienced significant trauma, instability, multiple moves and a lack of security throughout their early life.
Rock Trust CEO Kate Polson said:
"Young people should be supported to stay in their care placement until they are ready to leave and if they leave, should not be required to use the homelessness housing route to gain accommodation.
"We know that some young people will want to return to their families, or may even feel that they need to move on early to make room for others. We need to ensure that young people have support in this period, particularly when things don't go to plan.
"Housing First for Youth is an option that offers the stability, security and safety of a tenancy with as much or as little youth work support as is required. Our programme enables young people to make choices about their homes, have support for as long as they need or want it, and never have to move unless they want to."
Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director, CELCIS, welcomed the announcement and said:
"As we have seen through this initiative with The Rock Trust and Almond Housing, Housing First for Youth is one important approach that can help to meet the needs of some young people facing housing issues when they are moving on from care to more independent living. We know that unfortunately, care experienced young people can be at a greater risk of homelessness than their peers. This cannot be right and there needs to be a range of support and accommodation options to help them as they move into adulthood."
Rock Trust believes that Housing First is a vital support option to offer, especially for young people leaving care.