Housing

The Big Issue is at the heart of a report aiming at ending youth homelessness

Stephen Robertson, Big Issue Foundation chief executive, calls for “strategy to tackle the issue on multiple fronts” in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors study

Youth homelessness

The Big Issue is right at the heart of a new report targeting an end to youth homelessness.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) launched their Solutions to Youth Homelessness report today with contributions from Housing and Homelessness Minister Heather Wheeler as well as Crisis CEO Jon Sparkes and chiefs of some of the UK’s biggest housing providers.

Among them is Stephen Robertson, the chief executive of Big Issue Foundation, our charitable arm, who calls for a “strategy to tackle the issue on multiple fronts” in a bid to bring down the 86,000 young people who have been homeless in 2018, according to Centrepoint figures.

“First, we need government to implement a welfare regime that is sufficiently generous. Monetary poverty leads to poverty of opportunity, so we must help families to obtain a better future, rather than just fund the status quo,” wrote Robertson in the report.

“Second, if young people do become homeless then we need to act quickly to reverse their fortunes. The many organisations in this space must work more collaboratively and more creatively to develop permanent solutions, rather than applying individual sticking plasters. And, if an idea works, let’s give it the space, time and money to succeed – Housing First works so let’s halt the trials and implement it properly.

“Third, young people need ongoing support to help them cope with the trauma of poverty and homelessness.

“Lastly, to enable this we need a shift in public perception. The public must recognise that young people are homeless because of wider social problems, not just housing.”

Other innovative solutions outlined in the report include: reform of the private rented sector, support for well-being and mental health to allow young people to sustain tenancies and social housing options beyond the traditional with a need for creative housing use.

“Our ‘Solutions to Youth Homelessness’ paper is a step in the right direction as the advice and insight in it from leaders in their field, can help form a policy approach that is truly the result of sectoral collaboration,” said RICS chief executive Sean Tompkins. “The truth is there is no magic bullet to this – but by working collaboratively and being bold in every area we can make a real and lasting difference.”

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