Housing

Rough sleepers to be offered homes in converted hotels and schools

The government has revealed further details on how it plans to use the £433million it set aside to supporting rough sleepers in the UK.

Rough sleepers will be offered housing in converted hotels and schools under a new government scheme. Image: Gwydion M. Williams

The government has revealed more details about how it’s £433 million programme will offer increased support and housing to rough sleepers in the UK.

On Friday, The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced that converted hotels, schools and refurbished flats would be among the properties offered through the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme which aims “to provide 2,900 homes between 2021 and 2024.”

“This government does not just want to make a dent in the number of rough sleepers – we want to end rough sleeping for good, and through innovative programmes like this we’re on track to ensure no one is forced to spend a night on the streets,” Eddie Hughes, the minister for housing and rough sleeping said.

Liverpool is among the cities already taking advantage of the scheme, with more than 100 homes being renovated close to its centre, the majority of which will benefit from a garden “to encourage a settled environment for tenants”.

Other areas benefiting from the programme include London, Bedford, Nottingham, Bristol and West Lindsey, and the government is urging more councils to apply for their share of the funding. 

“It is good to see that the government is honouring its commitment to tackling homelessness and ending rough sleeping by 2024 with this allocation of funding to provide homes for people who are sleeping rough,” said Steve Douglas, St Mungo’s chief executive.

“We particularly welcome the confirmation of multi-year settlements, which was a key recommendation of the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping,” he added, “as this long-term approach will empower local authorities to provide the wrap-around support which we know is essential in our clients’ journey to recovery. 

“We know from our experience managing 30 hotels and supporting over 4,000 people during the Everyone In initiative, that collaboration and long term revenue and capital funding make a real difference to what can be achieved.”

Each home offered through the programme will be provided with specially-trained support workers from charities including St Mungos, the government said in a press release, who will offer guidance and treatment opportunities for tenants. 

“We are pleased to see the Government learning from the success of the pandemic response, as long-term solutions are the most effective route if we are to end rough sleeping for good,” Douglas said.

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The government is aiming to end rough sleeping by 2024, but some charities have said the scheme will not go far enough to address the problem. 

“We welcome the additional funding and provision announced, and in particular the specialised support around mental health and substance use issues experienced by people who are homeless,” said Neil Parkinson, co-head of casework at homeless charity Glass Door.

“However, we believe that it does not nearly meet the scale of the problem we witness: it plans to create 2,900 homes across England, when latest data from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) report show that more than 2,900 people were sleeping rough in London alone between October and December 2021.”

Babir Chatrik, director of policy at Centrepoint, shared similar concerns about the scale of the programme and its lack of reference to age-specific accommodation. 

“Today’s announcement of how this money for supporting rough sleepers is allocated, is an important step in the right direction in terms of meeting the government’s target to end rough sleeping in the next two years,” he said. 

“However, there remains much to do and it is disappointing to see there is still no allocation for services tailored to under 25s. The risk is that the government’s focus on ending rough sleeping comes at the expense of the almost 122,000 young people who have faced homelessness in the last year – many of whom feel unable to access the support they need.

“Not providing age-specific accommodation and support is short-sighted, because preventing and relieving homelessness at an early age, can allow those experiencing it to escape it for good. That is why we need the government to provide youth-specific financial resources to local authorities and charities, and create a strategy that will end youth homelessness for good.”

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