Cambridge Cyrenians is a local charity offering accommodation, mental health support, employment and other services to homeless men and women. Having delivered services for over 50 years, the organisation currently offers 101 bed spaces over 20 different schemes, recognising the specific needs of different individuals that find themselves homeless.
One of these schemes is the Older Homeless Service, which gives older individuals the support, flexibility and time they need to move on from their accommodation. This service is the result of a recognition that landlords often view the target group as requiring more support than their accommodation can offer and has seen great success since its establishment in 2003, with virtually no tenancy failures since this time. In 2014, the service began offering support to older tenants at risk of eviction; the reasons are varied and can often include debt, substance misuse, tenancy take-over and anti-social behaviour.
Cambridge Cyrenians approached PBE with the aim of demonstrating the cost benefit of the service to prove the value of the intervention and safeguard its future. Despite a delay due to volunteer availability, both parties continued to work well together and through communication and understanding we were able to carry out an assessment of the Older Homeless Service over the period 2014-2018. The study focusses on the existing data from the 4 years of the programme, showing that it helps to reduce the social costs of homelessness through successful rehousing and prevention of evictions; in turn, both outputs help to mitigate negative effects such as poor health and increased crime.
Scenario analysis explores the potential cost-benefit ratio for the Older Homeless Service, which is likely to be more than 1. This is dependent on length of stay exceeding 1 year and the percentage attribution of accommodation savings to the Older Homeless Service being sufficiently large: emerging evidence on the service shows that individuals who were moved in 2014/15 remained in their new accommodation for significantly longer than 12 months, and a low rate of rehousing from 2011-2014 suggests a relatively high level of percentage attribution.
The report also suggests a number of recommendations for future data collection, bearing in mind the limited internal resource for data intensive evaluation. These include creating costed case studies, or vignettes, to provide an illustration of the impact of the Older Homeless Service in future communications and funding materials.
We would like to thank all parties for their hard work during the process of this project.