Social Housing Management | The Frontline of Social Housing

People who are experiencing homelessness often have complex healthcare, social and housing needs.

People experiencing homelessness often experience multiple and complex needs, such as mental ill health, drug and alcohol misuse, offending and family breakdown.

You are the people who can provide support and resolution to people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.


Sarah’s journey beyond homelessness


Although under 30, Sarah had already experienced homelessness twice – once when she was 23 and again at 25- each time because of her mental health and drug use problems.


The impact of becoming homeless

– The first time Sarah experienced homelessness was when she lost her job due to frequent absenteeism. This loss of income left Sarah unable to pay rent, so she had no alternative but to move back in with her parents. Unfortunately, this return home didn’t work out, as she continued her drug use and was asked to leave. Sarah then went to stay with friends, and as a result, she became one of the hidden homeless who sofa-surf.

At this point, Sarah’s mental health deteriorated so much that one night she had a severe anxiety/panic attack and was hospitalised. Sarah remained in the hospital and began her recovery.

Once Sarah’s mental health had improved enough, she was discharged and returned to live with her friend, but after a few nights, they asked her to leave. Once again, Sarah had nowhere to go, so she had no choice but to wander the streets.

Sarah was made homeless again

While on the streets, Sarah visited two local hostels to see if they could provide her with temporary shelter, but they turned her away as the hostels were for Men only. This situation left Sarah not knowing where to go except that she was an outpatient at the local mental health hospital. So, on her next visit to the psychiatrist there, she was so desperate she asked if they could admit her – and they did.

Sarah’s rehabilitation

Sarah was admitted and became a patient there for 22 weeks, and although it was tough, she underwent rehabilitation which led to a positive turnaround. The team there helped her with drug misuse and got her the medication and support needed to improve her mental health and drug misuse issues. When Sarah was discharged, she managed to get a part-time job, secure a rented room, and continued her rehabilitation.

Experiencing Homelessness again

The second time Sarah became homeless, things followed a similar pattern. She had been working part-time in a shop, but once again, she lost her job due to absenteeism caused by her worsening mental health. She had no job, no money, and had rent to pay. Sarah applied for benefits, but there was a mix-up, and her benefit money was sent to the wrong account.

Eventually, they resolved the problem with her benefit payments, but she became ill again because of her mental health issues. Sarah then withdrew from the benefits system because she found it too complicated to handle and it exacerbated her mental health issues. She soon could not afford the rent and had to leave the property.

Helping hands

Once again, a few friends tried to help her, with one friend helping her access benefits again and suggesting she should approach her local authority for homelessness assistance. Sarah stayed at her friend’s house for a few nights until her appointment with the homelessness services team at the local authority.

The safety net

The team at her Local Authority considered Sarah’s needs a priority, and immediately placed her into temporary accommodation. At the same time, they also looked for longer-term accommodation that could provide her with suitable support. A housing register application was submitted on her behalf, and eventually, she was allocated a property with floating support for her mental health issues.

Sarah’s reality

The whole experience was terrifying for Sarah on both occasions, not knowing where she would spend the night. She felt abandoned and alone. At times, she had no one to turn to and would ask friends if she could sleep on their floor. They came through at first but then helped ran out quickly.

Mental ill health, drug misuse, poverty, and repeated homelessness were all interlinked in her case, and as is often the case with people who experience homelessness, safety nets can fall apart, and she went into a downward spiral.

Sarah’s Legacy

So, what is the long-term impact of this case?

Sarah’s story has helped the local authority commission two hostels for women, and their outreach team has completed training to specifically help women who’re experiencing all forms of homelessness.

Using data analytics for early intervention

The local authority used the analytics tool which is a standard tool in MRI’s Housing Options Solution Set, to analyse the data held across these solutions and identify trends and similar characteristics across current and previous applicants to inform future service provision and procurement/commissioning activities. The data enabled them to firstly identify and tell Sarah’s story and then identify themes and assess interventions for other people with similar stories to ensure they are put in place to avoid further cases like this.


The local authority now actively encourages storytelling, and the head of service uses user personas created from the data analysis taken in the solutions to present to exec management and the board.

Sarah’s story has resulted in a positive outcome for her and the broader community.

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