Gaining and preserving pioneer status: Key lessons from the housing first Pathfinder programme in Scotland

Sarah Johnsen, Janice Blenkinsopp, Matthew Rayment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Scotland has been heralded as an international pioneer in Housing First implementation given the level of political commitment the approach has commanded and pace at which the intervention has scaled up in recent years. This status was catalysed by a major three-year ‘Pathfinder’ programme, operational from April 2019 until March 2022, which scaled up Housing First provision in five areas and housed 579 homeless people with complex needs (e.g. co-occurring substance misuse and/or mental health problems). The Pathfinder served as a litmus test regarding the opportunities and challenges associated with scaling up Housing First at pace. This paper distils nine key lessons emerging from an independent evaluation of the Pathfinder which focus on its achievements and limitations, together with factors facilitating and inhibiting Housing First mobilisation and mainstreaming. These will inform future delivery as Housing First increasingly becomes the default response for individuals with complex needs as per recent Scottish Government policy directives. At least some if not all are likely to resonate in other countries aiming to embed and/or expand Housing First provision. The paper concludes that the level of political commitment the approach has commanded up until this point must be maintained, and fidelity to the core principles preserved, if Scotland’s status as Housing First pioneer is to be retained going forward.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-97
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of Homelessness
Volume17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • housing first
  • homelessness
  • complex needs
  • multiple disadvantage
  • Scotland
  • United Kingdom

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