The lack of safe housing reduces the possibility of coping and recovery from both disorders. There are around 6000 homeless individuals in Norway (Dyb 2012) in spite of an extensive and valuable public effort to reduce homelessness. Of special concern is the fact that one in every four individuals experiencing homelessness is below the age of 25. One out of three experiences homelessness as a recurring problem. One in every four individuals who experiences long term homelessness suffers from concurrent mental health disorders and substance addiction.
Attitudes in Norway have eventually changed from having to qualify for achieve housing to thinking about housing as an accepted general benefit for all. «Everyone is entitled to proper and safe housing”. In order to ensure this one has put down a lot of thoughtful and good work in developing various models of housing that are adapted to individuals who for one reason or another find it difficult to cope with housing and having a home. The majority of housing models include a follow-up system in varying form and intensity. The report «On the brink of having a home» («På randen av å bo») says: «Instead of creating criteria which the individual has to meet in order to qualify for a certain housing offer, the treatment system has to clarify which housing situation would be suitable for the individual according to his or her problems and resources.» (Taksdal et.al 2006, s 148).
By thinking «Housing First», the residence becomes the basis for all further follow-up and treatment. Good housing follow-up may contribute to the person staying on and that he or she creates a true home out of it. This is an important requisite for both coping and recovery. It is difficult to think recovery in regards to substance abuse and mental health disorders where there is no safe housing.
An important commitment for the Advisory Unit for times to come must therefore be to highlight the elements that make up a good housing follow-up. The term housing skill is both vacuous and meaningless and should be put to rest. What kind of effort is required from the support system, the various service agents or the housing follow-up workers to enable the individual to manage living in a home? Up until now, one has mainly concentrated on adapted housing. Now we need to look at adapted follow-up. Working together with the client is key here.
The Advisory Unit will be highlighting well-functioning models for housing follow-up; what relevant knowledge do we possess and where do we have to develop new knowledge? With this as a starting point, we will invite agents in the field to share their experience and knowledge. We shall contribute with what we have.