Threshold has expanded its successful Housing First to female entrenched rough sleepers

Threshold has expanded its successful Housing First programmes by creating four new places specifically for female entrenched rough sleepers in Tameside. With this and our other Housing First services, we are hoping to break down barriers to people accessing and maintaining long term homes, including pioneering work with individuals who have no recourse to public funds but are fleeing domestic or familial violence.

This means that Threshold Housing First is now responsible for one of the largest programmes in England with 72 Housing First places. Research from our initial programme has shown 100% tenancy sustainability.

Rough sleeping has increased rapidly in the last few years, especially the number of women who are sleeping rough. These women are often existing or expectant mothers, fleeing violence, or who have disabilities, health problems and complex needs.

The current Government was elected with a manifesto commitment to “halve rough sleeping over the course of the parliament and eliminate it altogether by 2027” by setting up a new homelessness reduction taskforce to focus on prevention and affordable housing and by piloting a Housing First approach to tackle rough sleeping. The Government also supported Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 which will place additional duties on local authorities in England to prevent and relieve homeless for all eligible applicants from April 2018.

Despite these efforts, the official rough sleeper counts have risen by 169% year since new methodology was introduced in autumn 2010.

Research conducted by CRISIS shows that Greater Manchester has the highest number of rough sleepers outside of London and Brighton. People sleeping rough are more likely to be victims of crime and women are particularly vulnerable, with nearly a quarter having been sexually assaulted whilst rough sleeping.

According to Homeless Link’s 2017 rough sleeping statistics more than 14% of total number of rough sleepers were women, however that may not take in to account the large numbers of ‘hidden homeless’ or those victims of abuse who often perceive ‘hostels’ as an even less attractive choice to remaining within the family home or hiding in makeshift accommodation away from prying eyes.

Work within Threshold has shown that many homeless women are ‘hidden homeless’ (for example they are sofa surfing or being sexually exploited in exchange for a room) in order to avoid sleeping on the streets where they also face a very high risk of sexual violence and exploitation. Even women who are actually sleeping rough are less likely to be recorded than men, as women often feel unsafe accessing male-dominated street homeless services. Data on female rough sleepers therefore probably underestimates the true scale of the problem yet there is a disproportionate lack of female specific services across the UK.  

Threshold is bucking that trend by creating by pioneering Housing First models aimed specifically at vulnerable women and victims of domestic abuse. 

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