Housing First schemes are a new approach to tackling chronic homelessness that has been adopted in North America and Europe. As the name suggests, these schemes concentrate on meeting a need for permanent housing first, with other factors addressed once the service user has been accommodated. This approach challenges more traditional models of working with homeless people, which involve moving them through a number of different situations to prepare them for independence. Housing First is closely tied to social pathology as an explanation for social problems.
Despite its popularity elsewhere, there have been relatively few Housing First schemes developed in the UK. However, in the North East of England, third sector organisation Changing Lives have introduced such a scheme for service users, often those with complex difficulties such as failure in more traditional homelessness projects, mental health problems, addictions and repeated spells in prison.
Changing Lives is keen to support a long term evaluation of its scheme; it is envisaged that this evaluation will include, but not be limited to:
• Interviews with approximately 40 service users of the project, comparing their experience of it with approaches that have been taken in the past to address their housing and broader needs.
• Interviews with staff of Changing Lives, considering their view of the effectiveness of the project and the extent to which it adheres to the Housing First principles which are evident elsewhere.
• Interviews with other people involved in the project such as landlords, health professionals and staff of the local authority.
• Analysis of a range of quantitative outcomes of the scheme including, where possible, a comparison of its costs to those of providing more traditional homelessness services.
Although this last task will require some skills in quantitative analysis, the methodology for the evaluation will be primarily qualitative. The student will be required to consider the implications of their findings for policy and practice and for the broader philosophy that underlies Housing First.
Fit with Departmental Research Priorities
The proposed study is consistent with objectives of two of the research centres in the Department of Social Sciences and Languages. In the case of the Centre for Offenders and Offending, the relevant objectives include:
• To conduct research which addresses theoretical, conceptual and empirical questions in the study of crime and deviance in contemporary society, whether at the local, regional, national and global level and
• To evaluate the role and nature of institutions and criminal justice agencies on offenders and offending.
In the case of the Centre for Civil Society and Citizenship, the most relevant objectives are:
• To conduct research which addresses contemporary theoretical, conceptual and empirical questions in the study of citizenship and civil society and
• To provide critical analysis and commentary on policy developments that affect civil society and, particularly, the role of citizens in civil society.
The research would be a continuation of the work which featured in impact case studies in the Social Policy REF submission. Two of these case studies – one about sex work and one about homelessness – drew on research conducted in collaboration with the Changing Lives organisation. The one about homelessness discussed evaluations of a number of services for homeless people, provided by both the statutory and voluntary sector, and identified changes to services that were made as a result of these evaluations. This PhD study, if funded, will develop further the body of evidence about homelessness services in the North East and strengthen the collaboration between the university and service providers to bring about practical change.
Enquiries regarding this studentship should be made to: Jamie Harding, 0191 2273545 or [email protected]
Applicants should hold a first or upper second class honours degree (in a relevant subject) from a British higher education institution, or equivalent. Students who are not UK/EU residents are eligible to apply, provided they hold the relevant academic qualifications, together with an IELTS score of at least 6.5.
To apply, contact Andrea Percival to request the appropriate application form, quoting the advert reference above, via email to [email protected]
or by using the application link on this page.
Deadline for applications: 14 April 2014
Start Date: 7 October 2014