The policy of giving homeless people with complex mental health issues permanent places to live will be the focus of a keynote speech at the University of Strathclyde.

Professor Deborah Padgett, of New York University, will explore the “Housing First” model of tackling homelessness among people with mental health and addiction challenges in her speech on Tuesday, 19 August. Strathclyde’s Professor of Global Public Health Sir Harry Burns – Scotland’s former Chief Medical Officer – will also be among the speakers at the free event, hosted by the Strathclyde International Public Policy Institute’s (SIPPI) new Centre for Health Policy, in partnership with Turning Point Scotland.

Professor Padgett has a wealth of experience in researching homelessness in New York City, including major studies on service engagement and examining homeless people’s mental health issues. This included assessing the impact of “Pathways to Housing” – the original Housing First model now adapted by Turning Point Scotland in Glasgow.

Professor Padgett said: “Little more than two decades ago, the Housing First approach to homeless services was considered irresponsible and doomed to failure.

“Times have changed. Rigorous research has shown time and again that Housing First brings greater housing stability, cost savings and reduced substance use.

“This convergence of findings established an unprecedented bottom line by the early 2000s: providing immediate access to an apartment and support services to a homeless person with mental illness and addiction was not only humane but effective.”

Turning Point Scotland Chief Executive, Martin Cawley said:

“We are really pleased to be working with Strathclyde International Public Policy Institute’s new Centre for Health Policy in this collaborative venture.

We are delighted to welcome such a renowned figure as Professor Padgett to Scotland and are really looking forward to her insight into such an innovative concept as Housing First.

From our own experiences of providing the service in Glasgow, supporting people with multiple and complex needs into their own tenancies gives them a safe space to tackle their substance misuse and many of the individuals we are working with have reported a positive impact on their lives.”

In her presentation, Professor Padgett will explore the impact of Housing First and the tension between evidence and values that surfaced as the approach was adapted in the US and internationally. Resistance to Housing First has come from political right and left, and from providers and activists.

Professor Padgett said: “While research evidence has convinced many, the values and practices of the ‘homeless industry’ have prioritised the status quo over consumer preferences. I’ll discuss the limitations of Housing First – and the larger structural problems it cannot solve – in the context of research findings and policy initiatives designed to end rather than manage homelessness.”

The event is part of the new Centre for Health Policy International Seminar Series and Deborah’s visit is part of a wider trans-Atlantic partnership being developed between the SIPPI Centre for Health Policy, University of Strathclyde and New York University on health and housing, poverty and public health.

In June, Strathclyde and NYU cemented a flagship partnership, paving the way for a range of research and collaboration opportunities, in areas including: sustainable and future cities; biomedical engineering; energy and power systems; policy development and engagement; and incubators and innovation.


Notes to editors:

The University of Strathclyde is a leading international technological university which is recognised for strong research links with business and industry, commitment to enterprise and skills development, and knowledge sharing with the private and public sectors. The University was named UK University of the Year in the 2012 Times Higher Education (THE) Awards. In the 2013 THE Awards, the University was named Entrepreneurial University of the Year.

The event will take place on Tuesday 19 August 2014 at the Lecture Theatre, Court Senate Suite, Collins Building, University of Strathclyde, 22 Richmond Street, Glasgow G1 1XQ.

Further information:

Corporate Communications

University of Strathclyde

T: 0141 548 4373