Independent advice for tenants is available from a number of local charities, most notably Shelter, whose Hackney Family Service supports families who are at risk of homelessness and deal with other housing issues as well. The charity offers free, expert housing advice on a range of topics, and works with specialist services to tackle recurring causes of homelessness (such as mental health issues, substance abuse, domestic abuse, anti-social behaviour and family breakdown) – through interventions coordinated by dedicated family support workers.

The City Housing Needs and Homelessness Team provides advice and assistance to prevent or end homelessness for local people.  The City of London Corporation also commissions advice services for vulnerable people, including those in need of housing advice or at risk of homelessness.

Housing support is provided to key vulnerable groups in Hackney, including single homeless people and homeless families, those with mental health problems, ex-offenders and young people at risk. This provision was originally funded through the Supporting People grant programme for local authorities. This support plays an important role in homeless prevention by enabling people to establish and maintain independent living, while also meeting a range of complex social and health needs of service users through a recovery model.  Homeless people and Hackney residents with long-term health problems may also benefit from generic or specialist floating support services.

In addition, Hackney is currently piloting a ‘Multiple Needs Service’, which provides intensive support to 24 clients with multiple needs – including substance misuse, mental illness, a history of offending and homelessness or living in insecure housing (it is estimated that between 90 and 150 people in Hackney had needs in all four areas in 2015).B  The service coordinates services around the individual and makes the system work for them (rather than requiring them to arrange access to different services for different needs). The primary aim of this service is to improve the physical health and mental wellbeing of an extremely vulnerable group of people. Box 10 provides an individual case study of one of the clients to benefit from this service.

Box 10: Case study – coordinating support around disadvantaged residents (Hackney Council’s Multiple Needs Service)

K is a 31 year old male who has a long history of service involvement and is known as a perpetrator of domestic violence (DV). K describes himself as an alcoholic and has managed to reduce his drinking only when subject to probation. His parents’ relationship ended as a result of his father’s behaviour towards him. Although he has a good relationship with mother and siblings, K has three children from a previous relationship and says he misses being able to see his children regularly. When K first presented to the Multiple Needs Service, K was street homeless and was bedded down around the Hackney Central area.

K has a record of involvement with criminal justice services, with offences between 2004 and January 2016. K is known to the South Hackney Community Mental Health Team where he attended the first few appointments with a keyworker, but eventually disengaged. K was referred to the Multiple Needs Service in April 2016 by the Pause service, which works with women who have had, or are at risk of having, one or more children removed. The Pause service have been working with K’s partner G, who is the mother of one of his children and is also the victim in the DV case against him.

K is a vulnerable adult with varying complex needs. He has expressed a desire to change his lifestyle, and needs support to assist with this. Initial engagement proved to be very difficult, caused in part by a short period in prison and on an acute mental health ward.

Despite these challenges in the period immediately following referral, progress has been made. By the end of May 2016 K managed to get temporary accommodation. There were some issues with this as K’s benefits had been stopped due to him missing a health assessment while he was staying in the mental health ward. The Multiple Needs Service case worker obtained an extension on K’s stay in temporary accommodation and resolved the benefits issue.

The number of times K has presented in crisis has drastically been reduced and he is now relatively stable. K does realise that this is just the beginning and he will need to stay focused and motivated. However, he remains on the right track and is now talking about doing a catering course and being relocated out of the area to get away from ‘bad influences’.

The City also funds St Mungo’s Broadway to deliver a range of preventative and support services, including outreach to rough sleepers and arranging accommodation.  The service refers rough sleepers to No Second Night Out and No-one Living on the Streets rapid assessment and response services – for rough sleepers who are new to the streets and intermittent rough sleepers who wish to stop living on the streets.  The City also supports the Middle Street Hostel financially, and funds a part-time support post there.  Box 11 provides examples of some of the innovative service models being implemented in the City to address the needs of its street homeless population.

Box 11: Case study – Accommodation and support for rough sleepers (City of London and St Mungo’s)

The City has developed innovative accommodation and service models to help its most entrenched rough sleepers leave the streets.  Working with St Mungo’s Broadway, it has developed a new model of hostel accommodation for long-term rough sleepers, whose needs are distinct from those of more transient or chaotic rough sleepers. The accommodation, known as The Lodge, breaks away from the traditional model and approach of a hostel to offer hotel-style accommodation.  In doing so, The Lodge has succeeded in engaging, accommodating and supporting a client group that would not otherwise have been helped.

Some long-term rough sleepers remain resistant to support from services. In 2010 the City of London’s Outreach Team piloted a new way of working with this group, focusing on personalisation.  The project moved away from the standard model of outreach to provide longer-term, more intensive engagement, and the offer of a personal budget to enable flexible and creative approaches. The project was developed and is delivered by St Mungo’s Broadway.  It was rolled out across London in 2011, and the City of London, in partnership with St Mungo’s Broadway, received the Andy Ludlow Award for this work.

The City of London operates regular pop-up hubs in association with St Mungo’s Broadway, local churches and the City of London Police.  Pop-up hubs currently operate every six weeks over a six day period.  These hubs provide an opportunity for those sleeping rough to engage with a number of key services, all in the same venue, to help them find the support they need to leave the streets.  Their intensive, 24-hour approach is considered as being especially effective for rough sleepers who are not eligible for support through the No Second Night Out initiative and/or who need reconnection.


  1. Estimates compared various national databases including Supporting People, National Drug Treatment Monitoring System and Oasys offender management. Methodology (PDF document) 
  2. Estimates compared various national databases including Supporting People, National Drug Treatment Monitoring System and Oasys offender management. Methodology (PDF document)