Last Update: December 2010

The news section features key developments in Drugs and Housing. This includes:

  • legal developments
  • changes in policy
  • practice developments
  • consultations
  • media stories
  • publication launches

If you have a news story that you want to see reported here, please get in touch.

Sample Drugs Policy (High Tolerance) 2011
Spring 2011

After a lot of work, we are really pleased to bring you a revised version of the Sample Drugs Policy. First published in 1996, the Sample Drugs Policy has been through a number of revisions.Version 7 has been substantially revised, to include procedures for several areas not previously addressed. The procedures have been clarified and refined. There's a new opening section to explain how to develop a drugs policy. And it's now in colour. This version is the "high tolerance" model and is intended for organisations working with ongoing use. It can be adapted for other settings but we will shortly be adding further versions for other settings. This version was produced with the help and support of Homeless Link. You can download the Sample Drugs Policy here

HOORAT v.4 is here
WInter 2010

The Hostel Opiate Overdose Risk Assessment Tool (HOORAT) is now in its fourth revision. Working with Homelesslink we reviewed the document, made some minor ammendments to the screening part of the tool, and substantially expanded the explanatory notes and methods of implementing the tool. It's also been produced in a more attractive colour version.
You can download HOORAT 4 here

Homelesslink and KFx - Joint Working on Drugs and Homelessness
Winter 2010

Homelesslink's Evictions and Abandonments Project got in touch with KFx in recognition of the substantial proportion of evictions and abandonments that are drug related. We are going to work together on some projects, most notably the revision of some key documents. This partnership gives us the resources to completely rewrite the Sample Drugs Policy and other important resources.

The Evictions and Abandonments project is here

Credit Crunch hits Shelter's Street Homeless Project
December 2008

The Street Homeless Project, the team within Shelter which developed and promoted Safe as Houses (along with many other interventions) is being wound up. Due to severe funding constraints within Shelter, cuts were being made and, sadly, the Street Homeless Project were one of the areas that were on the receiving end of these cuts.

This website and the work promoted herein would not have taken place without the support of the Street Homeless Project. Likewise, the development and promotion of "eyes wide open" housing for drug users received a massive boost thanks to the Street Homeless Project's support and endorsement and they have helped take housing from drug users on to the next level.

They have assisted this area of work massively, and this site is indebted to them.

Award for Housing Provider for Innovative work with Drug Users
November 2008

King Georges Hostel in London, part of ECHG, were the recipients of two awards at the Chartered Institute of Housing/Inside Housing Awards for Outstanding Achievement In Housing (England) and Meeting the Needs of Vulnerable People. King Georges are one of the growing number of housing providers who have adopted and adapted the “eyes wide open model” of housing provision that has been pioneered here for a number of years.

The Gateway Programme at King Georges Hostel is a pioneering initiative to provide housing, drugs education and harm reduction interventions to some of the most vulnerable dependent drug users in housing need.

The Programme takes in dependent drug users in housing need, provides housing in attend education and awareness sessions on injecting, overdose, and blood borne viruses. Despite the low level of obligations at admission, residents have been engaging with a wide range of initiatives, including Turning-Point provided drug treatment, nutrition and cooking programmes, outdoors fitness sessions and football clubs. The take up of interventions such as Hep b vaccinations is exemplary and despite the high-risk client group drug deaths have been prevented.

For more information about the awards see here

No Rough Sleepers by 2012?

The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced its intention to reduce rough sleeping to zero by 2012. Based on a current figure of 483 rough sleepers (down from a baseline figure of 1850 in 1997) the decline appeared to have stalled and this announcement appears intended to reinvigorate the drive towards ending rough sleeping.

The Strategy "No-one Left Out - Communities Ending Rough Sleeping" was released on the 18th November 2008.

The initiative includes homelessness prevention strategies such as rent-deposit schemes and repossessions, but there is not a specific action point relating to substance use despite the high levels of use amongst rough sleepers.


New KFx resource released: Drug Use and Homelessness - Toolkit 1: Assessment of local need.
august 2008

This is a simple to read and easy to implement guide to fast and dirty local needs assessment. It looks at different data sources, their validity and how to use these and additional resources to gauge the size of the local drug-using population. It is the first section of a larger toolkit to be released over the coming months which will provide practical and hands-on tools for developing housing provision for drug users.

This document can be downloaded here

Government publishes "Improving Practice in Housing for Drug Misusers - A Partnership Approach
august 2008

In August 2008, a paper entitled "Improving Practice in Housing for Drug Misusers" was published. The paper focusses on 13 case studies, and looks at strategies that work in housing drug users. The papers can be downloaded from:

There was also a seminar in Bristol on the 25th July 2008, but as they forgot to either let Drugs and Housing Website know, or to invite us we couldn't tell you about it in advance. The presentation by the authors of the paper is here

New Guidance on Housing Drug Users from Norfolk Drug and Alcohol Partnership

Norfolk DAP have published a new document "Accommodating Substance Misusers: The ‘Spectrum of Possibility’ A Guide for Housing Providers"
The resource was produced by Norcas Consultancy.

The report looks at the scope for housing drug users at various stages of change, from active ongoing, precontemplative users through to those who are engaged in treatment or now abstinent.

From the early, unambiguous assertion that "Drug legislation is not a barrier to providing accommodation to people with drug/alcohol problems" the report adopts a positive, confident tone and never retreats behind obfuscation.

The report is highly innovative, and very accessible. It is an excellent piece of work and represents an essential read on the subject. An URL for the report or a direct download can be found in the resources section or click on the image to the right.

Developing Regional Drug Protocols: - new briefing from KFx

Several regions have developled Regional Drug Protocols - guidance for local accommodation providers as to how to manage drug use on site. These are generally developed and agreed at a county or city level, and local providers encouraged or instructed to sign up to the protocols.

We've seen and reviewed a number of them, and it's highly likely that more will be developed. We are keen to see the best aspects of them reproduced, and the worst aspects discontinued. So KFx produced a guidance document on the benefits and pitfalls of developing a Regional Protocol.

As with other KFx materials it's available as a free download in the RESOURCES section or by clicking HERE.

The guidance document is a 'stage 2' draft. Stage 1 had a limited circulation, to gain feedback from a small number of colleagues. The Stage 2 draft is for general circulation, but we actively want and need people to offer constructive feedback. So if you read and use the document please get in touch, either via the forum or by direct email and offer some feedback so a finalised version can be produced.

Lastly, no funding was received to develop this document, so if you do use it and find it helpful, please consider making a donation to KFx to assist in developing future resources. Or how about paying for an advert on the website. Get in touch to find out how.

Clean Break - new report and toolkit from Homelesslink


Homelesslink worked with Tribal Consulting to look at the housing needs of drug users in treatment. The resulting report "Clean Break" was initiated in May 2005 and the report launched in 2007. The full report is an excellent and thought-through document which is clear both on its aims and the population on which it seeks to focus.

While the subtitle for the report is "Integrated housing and care pathways for homeless drug users," the study was not by its own admission focussed on the "needs of those who do not wish to reduce their drug use and who may be accesing harm reduction services."

This exclusion and wording is perhaps unfortunate. The words "do not wish to reduce their drug use" suggest that this is a matter of choice or personal preference as opposed to recognising that change is a slow and gradual process and people may wish to change but be unable or unready to do so.

More pertinently, this approach and focus excludes a significant population from the report's ambit - excluding those who are most frequently excluded, most likely to end up repeatedly rough sleeping and most likely to die as a result of this.

There is absolutely no problem in focussing on the housing needs of those engaging with treatment and, to be fair "Clean Break" is explicit on this focus at some points. But the risk is that by placing this focus, emphasis is shifted away from all homeless drug users and on to those who are engaged with structured treatment.

Strategically, "Clean Break" recognises the need for a range of housing at a variety of stages - from active, non-treatment engaged rough sleepers to abstinent treatment leavers. But qualitiatively, the selective quotes used veer away from this and look exclusively at the needs of the fully engaged in treatment. So for example a selection of Service User quotes were all about the need for "clean" accommodation. Not a single quote from anyone who wasn't ready to stop but valued being housed and kept safe.

This highly partisan selection of quotes may well have reflected the way that interview questions were framed: so for example, asking "how does where you live impact on your efforts to reduce or end your drug/alcohol use?" is a highly loaded and leading interview question especially when supplemented by a prompt like "does who you live with m ake a difference."

As a result the report cited service users and workers keen on measures such as "really strict rules" and "drug tests every week." Again, while there is a place for such provision in the spectrum of housing, it needs to be placed alongside other provision where those not engaged with structured treatment could be housed.

It would be great to be able to wholly endorse "Clean Break," and it is a really valuable new resource for the field. But, and it's a big but, the selective focus, quotes and service description could end up acting to the detriment of drug users not engaged with treatment. Already, the discussions about provision are becoming polarised around "chaotic" users, being used as a slip-shod slang for those not engaged with treatment and "users in treatment." This is not a helpful polarisation.

We also really take issue with the ongoing use of "clean" as a shorthand for abstinent or drug free. It is a constant source of irritation and offense to many users and ex-users that this word is used, with the sub-text, intended or otherwise that when using, they are 'dirty.' The use of "clean" in the title and throughout the text is unfortunate and ill-considered.

Clean Break can be downloaded from the Homelesslink Website at:

The associated toolkit, some of which is in need of further attention, is at:

Home Office advisors - Storing Controlled Drugs not robustly Legal
- Legal changes in pipeline
- Acknowledgement of a need to act

May 2007

After a LONG wait, but KFx finally got a "good" response from the Home Office about Storage of Controlled Drugs from the Home Office.

In January, KFx sent a very long letter to the Home Office recapping the legal situation as we understood it, the need for Home office action and the correspondence to date. For those of you who want to read the letter, follow this link:

The reply that has now been received is fairly good news (or bad news depending on your perspective).

It effectively agrees that the arguments against the legality of storing Controlled Drugs are well-founded. Home Office legal advice now agrees that it is not robustly legal to do so and that arguments suggesting rules on "conveying" or "administeiring" provided a good safeguard were inadequate.

So the Home office now agrees that legal change is required, is going to explore how to do so, and put proposals before the ACMD.

They will want to know the views of the field, and their will be a consultation period. Updates on this will follow.

In the meantime, the existing guidance in "On Storage" remains valid, but will need to be updated to reflect the Home Office's new thinking on this.

To read the Home Office response, please click here or paste the link:

It's been a long wait, but maybe we'll finally see this annoying issue resolved!

If you have views about how this issue should be progressed, or what models of implementation you would like to see, please post them to the Forum or email them.

In order to achieve a good, safe response for the field, we would propose a model that looks something like this::

1) Misuse of Drugs Regulations amended by use of Statutory Instruments to authorise possession and distribution of Schedule 2,3,4 controlled drugs within certain defined criteria. This would mean an expansion of the reference to "Those having the written authority of the Home Secretary" - to include those holding a "Notice of Authority."

2) Groups to whom the authority should be extended to include schools, colleges, residential services, youth provision, housing providers, day centres, drugs agencies and others as required and specified by the Home Secretary.

3) The extension of the authority will require the organisation to meet a series of requirements; the local police and Pharmacy inspectorate will assess these.

a) That safe storage facilities are put in place
b) That effective record keeping protocols are put in place
c) That handling and distribution of such drugs is restricted to full-time, paid staff who have been trained to required standards, and have completed any probationary periods of work

4) The Police and the Pharmacy Inspectorate must be consulted, and the organisation should comply with any recommendations made by the police regarding storage

5) Following such consultation, the police and Pharm Inspectorate should have the power to issue a "Notice of Authority" which would allow the organisation to store such drugs for service users.

Kevin @ Kfx: may 2007


Simon Community Report "Street Homelessness in Leeds" added to RESOURCES:

The Leeds Simon Community undertook research with the street homeless population in Leeds and shed new light on factors contributing to and sustaining homelessness, and the experience of homelessness amongst this population. The report effectively drills down behind the "headcount" figures, and reveals a larger population of people who are street homeless who may not feature in this count but have complex needs, poor health and experience multiple exclusions.

The report was produced with the assistance of Shelter, and can be found in the Resources section or downloaded HERE.


Drugs and Housing Standards
added in RESOURCES

These standards were developed originally as part of a conference presentation on what housing providers could aspire to in working with drug users.

They have been developed a little bit since then. They are intended to form an understandable, user-friendly set of standards against which housing providers can assess themselves and their provision. They are also intended to help purchasers identify what housing providers should...and providing.

We are aware that some Supporting People teams have been trying to identify standards and criteria against which to assess housing providers. Some explored requiring housing providers working with drug users to be DANOS competent. But we do not feel that the DANOS standards as currently laid out are accessible or especially tailored to for housing providers. We also feared that the route to qualification would act as a disincentive to working with drug users.

Instead, we think that the current Drugs and Housing Standards can be used to establish the components of provision. We are aware that some organisations are already using them, and hope more will do so.

They are a work in progress, and would benefit from additional fields being added. We would welcome suggestions, criticisms or comments about these standards.


Thesis Added: 1.10.06
Mr Peter Clare kindly submitted his thesis "The Relationship Between Housing and Problematic Drug Use: A Study of Three Areas in the North of England," for inclusion on the website. This is a substantial piece of work, which makes a significant contribution to unserstanding the relationship between housing need and problematic drug use.

"This research builds upon two research traditions in housing studies and drugs misuse. It aims to show connections between the two that have previously attracted insufficient attention. It focuses on problematic drug use rather than so-called 'recreational' use, and outlines connections between certain housing forms and locations and the use of drugs problematically.

To download the report [331pp; 671kb; pdf] please click HERE

Drugs Policy - Flowcharts: 1.10.06

Following a number of requests, we've compiled a series of flowcharts for dealing with common drug-related situations. These include, possession, use, intoxication, home visits, finding drugs or paraphernalia. The flowcharts mesh with the Sample Drugs Policy and so are not aimed at organisations working within a zero-tolerance model.

The slides were planned in Powerpoint, but are presented here as Adobe PDF slides. Organisations are welcome to use them as they stand or adapt them if they wish to. To download the Flowcharts click HERE.

We would really welcome FEEDBACK, in terms of additional flowcharts that would be useful, and to correct or improve the flowcharts prepared to date.


New Report from Wallich Clifford:

Wallich Clifford Community have launched a new report: The Stigma of Rural Homelessness in Wales.

The charity identified a significant gap in available research exploring in detail the extent and nature of rough sleeping in these rural counties and, with funding from the Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales,was able to embark on a three-month research project with the following objectives:
1.To collect evidence of need for outreach projects in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire (this was extended to Pembrokeshire and Powys)
2.To provide a service for people living street-based lifestyles
3.To collect information about the needs of the client group and work with the Local Authorities and service providers to develop services that meet the
identified need

This report analyses the evidence and information gathered during the period of research,and looks in detail at the pattern of homelessness in these rural areas. Individual case studies, gathered through firsthand information given by over 130 homeless people, highlight specific issues that surfaced repeatedly.

The report is downloadable from:


Drugs and Housing Website Launched:

KFx is pleased to announce the launch of the new Drugs and Housing Website. Thanks to the generous support of Shelter, KFx have been able to create a new resource for those engaged with housing need and drug use. The website includes a resource centre hosting key documents related to drugs and housing, and the UK's first dedicated forum for the subject.

Drugs and Housing is a KFx project. Click on the logo to the right to access the main KFx website. Materials on this website are (c) KFx unless otherwise credited.