AIMS OF FELLOWSHIP

In the late Spring of 2016, I was fortunate to embark on an exciting opportunity which would allow me to take my activism, passion and desire to help end and prevent homelessness to an international level: I would be travelling to the United States of America on a coast-to-coast pit-stop tour of innovative and pioneering homelessness response strategies on behalf of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship, in partnership with the National Housing Federationlxxix.

I am attracted to learning more about foreign approaches to homelessness for several reasons. As it currently stands, the social housing market in the UK has numerous limitations when it comes to its total resolution of homelessness. Further afield, we can explore divergent approaches which may have proven successful elsewhere, or contain important lessons within their challenges and failures.

Available literature suggests that the extent of homelessness varies considerably across the earth; the United States of America appearing to be a ‘leader’ among nations of the developed worldlxxx. We can draw strong comparisons between the USA and the UK; each share a strong sense of uncertainty about the future, with both encountering challenges of economic turbulence and environmental concerns during the age of digital transition.

aims of fellowship - ending homelessness Varle Report
New York street art

The practical case study work I have personally undertaken has been enhanced with international influence from its inception. If we refer to western world consumerism, the USA can provide some indication of delayed mirroring and this was used as my early guide when looking to design practical solutions for British homelessness address. The USA was the epicentre of financial disaster in 2008: What methods and techniques were being deployed to address the subsequent disorder and resulting impact on housing and employment? How were crisis respondents managing a substantial reduction in funding and limitations in practical resource availability, whilst concurrently experiencing a sharp increase in service user demand?

A defining moment in my study arose when tracing adaptations of ‘Housing First’ models in America and learning of the highly successful ‘PATH Beyond Shelter’ programme in Los Angeles. ‘PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) is a family of agencies working together to end homelessness for individuals, families and communities in California, having displayed a housing-led approach which can be traced back to 1988. They say they focus on housing because ‘homelessness is a housing problem: People can't get off the streets if they don't have somewhere to go'lxxx.

Studying housing-focused homelessness address in areas of strong economic growth and commercial innovation, such as Manhattan, New York, I learnt that the average price of an apartment can surpass $2 millionlxxxii. And so, I considered, if this region can pro-actively respond to homelessness with the utilisation of ‘Housing First’ based initiatives such as ‘Pathways to Housing’, potentially this region holds further methodology which could be adapted for a climate where property value is more aligned with average household income. Furthermore, the UK’s robust ‘Welfare State’ is supportive of meeting diverse need via its free availability of housing-related social security benefits for eligible, low-income applicants.

This Fellowship aimed to investigate hybrid models of housing and inclusive rehabilitation, with the primary goal of understanding how the public, private and voluntary sectors can work together effectively in order to provide compassionate, cost-efficient and conclusive homelessness prevention and response services. Ultimately, could we dissect the approach, identify transferrable lessons and correlate best practice techniques from across the world to be used as a broader approach to addressing varying degrees of homelessness in Britain?

Manhattan, New York

Citations

lxxix. https://www.wcmt.org.uk/users/amyvarle2016 (Web version unavailable) New link found: https://www.churchillfellowship.org/search/?term=amy+varle
lxxx. https://www.uclep.be/wp-content/uploads/pdf/Pub/Toro_JSI_2007.pdf
lxxxi. https://www.epath.org/site/WhatIsPATH/focus-on-housing.html (Web version unavailable, now is a general link to their site)
lxxxii. https://fortune.com/2016/12/14/manhattan-apartment-real-estate-price/

Copyright © by Amy.F.Varle, January 2018.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.

The views and opinions expressed in this report and its content are those of the author and not of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, which has no responsibility or liability for any part of the report.

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When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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