MHCLG report finds Housing First costs DOUBLE what Crisis claim. Oh dear!!

The minimum Housing First yearly cost per person is DOUBLE the figure that Crisis the homeless organisation and prime supporter of Housing First say it is.

The official MHCLG report puts the Housing First per person per year housed cost at a minimum of £18,726 (excluding rent cost) and the Crisis ‘report’ of last week asserts this excluding rent cost figure to be just £9,683.

Today I have been reading the Second Process Evaluation of the Housing First Pilots, the official report published yesterday by MHCLG. This concerns the three large-scale Housing First pilots in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and the West Midlands (GM, LCR, WM) and its 68 pages make very sobering reading indeed. The same old practical and cultural barriers and problems exist as I first encountered in single homelessness almost 30 years ago and ever since and the same very vulnerable individual needs are manifest in the 534 complex need clients that have been rehoused across the 3 pilot areas in the last three years.

The MHCLG official report from which the above 534 housed figure comes is an extremely depressing read though a necessary one and most depressing of all is the Housing First models (note plural) engaged variously across the 3 areas will not or ever work due to the elephant in the room which is always the bottom-line cost … which is DOUBLE the cost of that asserted last week by Crisis in a ‘report’ alluding to be for the APPG Homeless cross party group for which Crisis provides the secretariat.

The MHCLG report reveals 534 HF clients have been housed in the 3 pilots and have come at an agrregate cost of not less than £10 million per year and note that figure excludes the housing rent cost. It equates at the lowest cost to £360 per person per week excluding rent and that excludes the cost of statutory services delivered to the Housing First clients.

It is an unsustainable cost to the public purse and no government of any persuasion will pay that cost, just as they have been unwilling to pay that cost for the last 30 years. Even if all the inevitably predicted practical problems such as the chronic undersupply of the one-bedded properties upon which the Housing First model(s) is 100% dependent magically arose up out of the ether to provide the housing firstly, then the ongoing cost of providing the support services is never going to materialise.

Number and cost crunching

The 3 pilots were granted £28 million from the government over a three year period and additional millions have been claimed in Homeless Trailblazer Funding (HTF) that means the three years to date have seen well over £30 million directly spent on these pilots or not less than £10 million per year on average.

The LCR service alone had £1.7m of HTF (over 2 years) and that funding level of not less than £30m over 3 years (which excludes any additional in-house funding) has seen 534 persons with what we cursorily label ‘complex needs’ housed in their own property for varying lengths of time ranging from less than one month to 1 person for over three years.

IF all 534 had been housed for three years which they haven’t at a cost of £30 million the support cost per person would be £18,726 per year and £360 per week PLUS rent cost. Simple arithmetic sees dividing £10 million by 534 recipients to be this £18,726 per person per year.

This £360 per person per week plus rent costs is thus the lowest possible cost of these pilots and is not sustainable. It we say £90 per week rent cost then this is £450 per person per week as a very low cost per person PLUS the additional cost of statutory services as the Housing First model brings additional clients to statutory services that were previously not supported or paid for by mental health and other services.

I make no apologies for focusing on the costs as the bottom line is the only thing that matters to government funders. It is always the primary concern and the secondary concern is whose budget does it come from.

We see the MHCLG external evaluation finds that the Crisis report published last week that asserted the Housing First cost per person at £9,683 per year (excluding rent cost) was barely half of the true cost which at the lowest is the £18,726 per person per year (also excluding rent cost) and the real minimum cost of the Housing First model is DOUBLE the cost that Crisis assert it to be!

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