Housing First Leeds
Housing First is a housing and support initiative which aims to give people who are both homeless and have multiple complex needs a chance and a choice. In 2018 Turning Lives Around joined up with Basis Yorkshire to pioneer the first Housing First project solely for homeless female on street sex workers in the UK. As well as being homeless, many female sex workers have needs relating to added issues such as a history of substance abuse, sexual and domestic violence, self-harming and suicide attempts and other mental and physical health concerns.
Their needs couldn’t be met by existing housing support in Leeds.
With funding for three years from the Tudor Trust, Housing First Leeds provided six homeless sex workers with their own secure, fully furnished homes in a community of their choice anywhere in Leeds. Tenancies are initially held by TLA and transferred to the residents when they become more independent.
In addition to their accommodation, Housing First residents have a dedicated support worker. Although not obliged to engage with the support worker, they are available to provide intensive help with such issues as health and mental wellbeing, substance and alcohol misuse and offending, which can often lead to women becoming and remaining homeless. In total, eight women have taken on tenancies through Housing First Leeds, with six sustaining them for more than twelve months.
In recent years, the number of women sleeping rough on Leeds’ streets has grown considerably. Keen to bridge the gap in provision locally, TLA partnered with Leeds Action to Create Homes (LATCH) and, in September 2020, launched a new Housing First scheme. Funded for three years by the Henry Smith Charity, the scheme provides accommodation and intensive support, including access to therapeutic support and counselling as an integral part of the service for ten more homeless women with complex needs.