The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has allocated £15m for the initiative, from the previously announced £750m figure dedicated to tackling homelessness this year. Leading social impact investor, Big Society Capital, will match the £15m figure, in a move which will mark the first time the Department has used social impact investment to fund new homes.
The government will roll out the pilot scheme over the next three years, and will predominantly focus on London, Greater Manchester and Teesside. The funding will enable purchases of existing properties to then make them available at Local Housing Authority rent levels.
The department plans to re-invest any financial returns from the initiative, through rents or capital appreciation, into providing further homes for rough sleepers.
Eddie Hughes MP, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing said: “I am delighted to announce this partnership with Big Society Capital that will see a total of £30 million invested in new homes for rough sleepers.”
“This Social Investment pilot will help to provide additional settled accommodation and support to help rough sleepers off the streets permanently.”
The ‘Everyone In’ scheme provided over 37,000 rough sleepers with emergency accommodation over the course of the pandemic. According to the latest figures, 26,167 of these have since moved into more permanent accommodation.
The most recent annual snapshot count from a single night in autumn 2020, still found 2,688 rough sleepers in England. While this count had decreased from the previous year, it remains 52 per cent higher than in 2010 when the snapshot counts were first introduced.
Get free training, careers advice and access to hundreds of thousands of jobs with The Big Issue’s RORA Jobs & Training
This method of collecting data has also recently been criticised for its inaccuracy, and the latest quarterly CHAIN figures found 3,002 rough sleepers between January and March this year in London alone.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said:“We welcome any new funding to support people off the streets and into safe and secure housing where they can thrive. But 200 new homes will only scratch the surface of what is needed. We hope this pilot is part of a rapid expansion of truly affordable housing. As well as funding, we desperately need a national strategy to end rough sleeping and homelessness in England for good.
“This must include the national roll out of Housing First programmes across England, to help end the homelessness of people with multiple needs relating to mental health, trauma and addiction.”
The initiative comes as reports begin to emerge of rough sleepers being asked to leave their emergency accommodation as hotels return to normal, including those providing accommodation for the G7 summit.