"The last 18 months have been very turbulent for John, but in comparison to how his life was in hostels, he is remarkably stable, he has not breached his ASBO, he has stayed out of prison and has engaged really well with Housing First, his drug service and his GP."
John is a 50-year-old male Camden Housing First Client.
John has a long history of alcohol dependency, heroin and crack use and anti-social behaviour.
He also has ongoing alcohol-related health problems (incontinence, liver and pancreas issues), Hepatitis C and a history of TB and Pneumonia.
John was first referred to Camden Housing First by his hostel key worker in December 2014.
He was seen as a priority for the service as he had been given a ‘Multiply Excluded Tag’ by the Camden housing pathway team. This meant if he were to be evicted from one more hostel, he would be permanently excluded from the pathway and would be street homeless.
John had previously been evicted from five different hostels in the borough - often for aggressive or threatening behaviour towards other clients, and aggressive and racially abusive behaviour towards staff. When not in hostels, John had a history of rough sleeping, prison sentences and short attempts at detox and rehab.
John also had an ASBO for street drinking/begging in Camden and had breached it several times.
John was aware that Housing First would support him into Private Rented Sector (PRS) accommodation outside of Camden, he was anxious about living in a different borough but open to the idea.
It did not take long to find John appropriate accommodation, Housing First workers insured he had realistic expectations about the size and condition of PRS properties, and he moved into his flat in Haringey in January 2015.
John used his personal budget to purchase items for his flat such as a guitar, TV and radio.
He engaged really well with Housing First staff, as he enjoyed the freedom of having his own flat, and less rules to follow. There were no issues with aggressive behaviour, as John lead the support and chose when he wanted to engage with staff.
John managed OK in his flat, but did forget his keys on a regular basis, and was a nuisance to neighbours when buzzing them to let him in, he also once climbed over the wall and smashed the glass in his back door in order to gain entry into his flat.
After six months John’s landlord decided to sell the block of flats he lived in and issued all tenants with section 21 notices, which gave Housing First a very short amount of time to re-house him in another property.
John moved into a nice one bed flat close to his previous flat, but he was issued an eviction notice six months later. The landlords stated they were selling the property, but it’s understood that during a routine inspection John was found to have several rough sleepers staying in his flat, and had not kept it clean or tidy. John moved to his third flat, a very small bedsit also not far from his two previous flats in March 2016.
John transferred from the Camden drug service to the Haringey drug service in February for his methadone script. The service had a stricter approach when scripting people under the influence of alcohol and this led to John threatening a member of staff and receiving a ban for eight weeks. Housing First had to liaise with the Camden service to get John scripted there during the ban.
After the ban, John ’s relationship with the Haringey service really improved, and in 2015 he attended a two-week residential detox, but left before going to rehab, and immediately relapsed.
Not long after this, John was hospitalised with pancreatitis. John continued to work with Housing First during this difficult period of his life, and it was an opportunity for Housing First to discuss the long term impact of John’s alcohol use on his health, and what he wanted for the future.
Housing First’s peer volunteer worker played a key part in supporting John around this time, and John responded really well to having a peer who had been through similar experiences but was clean and volunteering.
The last 18 months have been very turbulent for John, but in comparison to how his life was in hostels, he is remarkably stable, he has not breached his ASBO, he has stayed out of prison and has engaged really well with Housing First, his drug service and his GP.
In May 2016 John was again referred for detox and rehab, Housing First escorted him to the detox in Plymouth, and then again with the trip to rehab in Bournemouth. He’s currently in rehab, and has got back in contact with his son on Facebook who he has not seen for 30 years.
John is now contemplating whether to relocate in Bournemouth or come back to London after his rehab.
*To protect identity, the name of the client in this story has been changed.