Housing

St Mungo's has launched a long-term housing campaign for the homeless

Homeless charity St Mungo's has written an open letter to the government asking for long-term housing and support for homeless people trying to rebuild their lives

Homelessness charity St Mungo’s has launched a campaign calling on the government to end rough sleeping permanently.

The Home For Good campaign, revealed to coincide with World Homeless Day (October 10), demands politicians ensure the availability of long-term housing and support for those trying to rebuild their lives.

The charity pointed to “spiralling housing costs, increasing insecurity for private renters and cuts to homelessness services” as root causes for the significant rise seen in people who return to rough sleeping after getting back on their feet.

Since 2015, there has been a 27 per cent rise in the number of homeless people returning to the streets of London after spending at least a year in housing. On a headcount taken in autumn 2017, 4,751 people were found to be sleeping rough in England.

Home For Good will present real life stories in order to demonstrate why it can be so tough to move on from from the streets for good.

The charity is asking people to sign an open letter to James Brokenshire, the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government. It will ask him to guarantee long-term funding for homelessness services, improved affordability and stability in the private rented sector and more social housing built with rough sleepers in mind.

The letter was written with the help of Kevin, 43, a former St Mungo’s client. He previously struggled with long-term substance abuse and mental illness, and when homeless moved between sleeping on sofas, in hostels and on the street.

“I was ducking and diving, it was very chaotic. The first time I slept rough I’d just come out of prison and had nowhere to go. I got an emergency place in a St Mungo’s hostel. I’ll always be thankful for having that place,” he said.

Eventually Kevin moved into a privately rented flat with the help of a rent deposit scheme, but he found that suddenly all the support he had been receiving stopped. This exacerbated his struggles and he lost his flat, forcing him to return to rough sleeping.

He said: “That was my first ever flat. Moving on, into your own place, is the scariest time for anyone. A lot of people need ongoing support, I needed ongoing support.”

Now, in a new social housing flat and with stability back in his life, Kevin wants to share his story to help others having similar experiences. “Not having a home for all of them years had a really detrimental effect on my psychological wellbeing. I am one of the lucky few who has managed to get stability, I truly believe I am one of the lucky ones.”

St Mungo’s provides housing and support to 2,800 people across London and the South and offers advice, skills and work services to those who need it.

St Mungo’s CEO Howard Sinclair said: “Twenty years of government action meant that the end of rough sleeping was in sight by 2010. We now need to see that same decisive, long-term action once again to ensure that everyone can find and keep a home for good.

“There is a real sense of determination building within government and across the country to put a stop to this national scandal. But it’s not enough to help people off the street and think the job is done. Like Kevin, people are returning to the streets. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

“The government has made a start with the Rough Sleeping Strategy, but we need a long-term programme to fund the vital services that keep people safe and off the streets every night and more safe, secure and affordable housing for rough sleepers who so desperately need it.”

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