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How we prevent rough sleepers returning to the streets after lockdown

Charities and housing professionals' message to the government

The government has set up a task force to stop rough sleepers returning to the streets after the coronavirus crisis.

The majority of people in Kent who were homeless when this crisis began are now in emergency accommodation. Porchlight was part of the multi-agency effort to bring them inside.

Now, we’ve joined forces with other charities and homelessness support services, social housing providers and housing professionals to tell the government taskforce what needs to be done to help these people leave homelessness behind for good.

In a letter to the head of the taskforce, Dame Louise Casey, we explain that:

  • The government must make a commitment that nobody will return to the streets once this crisis is over.
  • It must ensure local authorities have the resources to continue supporting people until they’ve left homelessness behind for good.
  • This support must be flexible - it must focus on each person’s individual needs and situation because we know that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to help people recover from emotional trauma of homelessness.
  • There needs to be more housing for homeless people, so that everybody has somewhere to live once they no longer need support.
  • If people are to get the help they need, there must be increased for homelessness services, a welfare system that works for everyone and covers the basic cost of living, and more support for people who are unable to acquire housing because of legal barriers.

We believe that by working with the government to make this a reality, we can end rough sleeping and tackle the wider forms of homelessness.

Read the letter in full

Dear Dame Louise,

We are a group of social housing providers, homelessness service providers, local and national charities and trade bodies of social housing providers and housing professionals.

We appreciate and welcome the leadership shown by national government to bring rough sleepers indoors, as part of the Everybody In initiative. Many of our members and partners have also been a key part of the massive effort made by local government to achieve that. This work has undoubtedly saved lives.

We are also encouraged to see the continuation of this commitment in the form of a new government taskforce to advise local authorities on supporting rough sleepers into long-term accommodation as lockdown begins to be lifted, and the recent funding announcements. We are confident that with you at the helm of this taskforce, real results will be seen for those rough sleepers who have been brought inside.

This commitment to securing long-term, post-lockdown housing solutions, accompanied by support and proportionate funding, is crucial to fulfilling the existing government objective to end rough sleeping.

We are keen to work with government, local authority partners and the newly formed taskforce to build on what has already been achieved collectively and make sure there are sustainable solutions for those currently accommodated and for those at risk of homelessness.

To make this a reality, we recommend the following as part of the plan to keep Everyone In and to end homelessness for all:

  1. Government should seize this opportunity and commit to no-one being returned to the street;
  2. National leadership is needed to encourage local cooperation. Local areas need the power and resource to support those currently accommodated and those coming into homelessness and build on the successful partnership working at local level;
  3. We must understand everyone’s needs and what is a suitable move-on option for each one of them and we must act fast to ensure everyone is included;
  4. Interventions must be housing-led and efforts must be made to understand what housing is available and what can be procured to facilitate rehousing of those who have been homeless;
  5. This commitment needs specific, long-term, earmarked funding for support, transition, welfare and conversion/acquisition of homes. The housing and homelessness sector will need increased funding to be able to continue providing a service and to make homes available;
  6. There needs to be continued, funded provision and community-based solutions for those who usually come up against legal barriers, including those currently debarred from benefits because of their immigration status;
  7. The welfare system must work for everyone and cover the cost of rent and support.

It is essential that work also focuses on those people at risk of homelessness because of the crisis, such as people fleeing domestic abuse, those in rent arrears, young people, prison leavers and people leaving hospital. It shouldtake into account households already in temporary accommodation, and the economic and social stimulus, including social housebuilding at sufficient levels – at least 90,000 units per year – needed to prevent homelessness long-term.

We are keen to work with government to make this a reality and are at your disposal to meet and discuss the critical work that needs to happen now and must continue into the future. This is the right thing to do and is economically beneficial. Together, we can end rough sleeping and tackle the wider forms of homelessness.

Yours sincerely,

Caritas Anchor House

Chartered Institute of Housing

Citizen

Hightown Housing Association

Home Group

Homeless Link

Homes for Cathy

Look Ahead

National Federation of ALMOs

National Housing Federation

One Housing

Peabody

Placeshapers

Plus Dane Housing Association

Porchlight

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick

Riverside

South Yorkshire Housing Association

St Mungo’s