Housing First for Youth Service Delivery Model

HF4Y in Europe

The HF4Y program model is being used in programs and pilot projects throughout Europe.

One example of a HF4Y program in Europe is a program run by Focus Ireland. The Waterford program has been adapted for young people with complex needs who were not well served by traditional homeless services. The young people generally had negative experiences of services and are difficult to engage with. The HF4Y project provides stability through its principles of building trusting relationships with hard to reach young people. Because of economic circumstances and a crisis of rental housing, the program focuses on providing flexible secure tenancy. Program staff acknowledge that it takes time for the young people to trust the model. It is important to have patience and be aware that for some, behaviour can become more chaotic in the initial phases of the project.

Harm reduction is an important cornerstone of the service. This is broader than interventions for substance misuse, but also includes reducing activities and behaviour which can lead to losing a tenancy. For example, encouraging the young person to have a friend or two over to visit them instead of inviting 20 or more people for a party. The HF4Y service in Waterford focuses on young people who have high support and often complex needs. Tenants often experience prejudice and blame for any anti-social behaviour that occurs in the area.

These are vulnerable young people who make mistakes; if they engage in anti-social behaviours like a house party, the neighbours are not patient while the tenants learn to live in a community setting, often for the first time.

As you read about the HF4Y program highlighted in the next section, think about the following:

  1. Why are hard-to-reach young people in Ireland unable to be successful with traditional housing services?
  2. What two challenges did the program organizers encounter?
  3. What are some unique features and advantages of the ‘rolling house’ model described?

For more information or support for HF4Y programs in Europe, go to the Housing First Europe Hub.