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Housing

‘We can change this’ 60,000 could be prevented from homelessness

Crisis say taking action set out in their new report could drastically reduce the number of people without a secure place to live in the next decade

Homelessness could plummet by 25 per cent over the next 10 years if leaders take bold action to prevent it, according to charity Crisis.

The organisation’s annual study, carried out by Heriot Watt University, calls for continued investment in housing benefit and social housing, as well as a national roll out of the Housing First approach to homelessness which it says would prevent 60,000 individuals and families from losing their homes in England.

Taking this action could see homelessness drop below current projections by a quarter by 2031 with rough sleeping down 62 per cent and the numbers of people trapped in temporary accommodation or sofa surfing down 75 per cent and 13 per cent respectively. The Housing First approach includes giving people experiencing homelessness an unconditional tenancy followed by support in other areas of their life.

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In contrast, failure to act could carry a high price, with 246,200 families and individuals forecast to face homelessneess by 2031 – up 22 per cent on the number of households currently without somewhere secure to call home this Christmas.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “We’re now at a crucial point where homelessness could either skyrocket over the next decade or can be brought down with similar bold action to what we’ve seen this year.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are set to spend Christmas without a home – this is heart-breaking. We know that with concerted efforts, such as continued investment in housing benefit, and longer-term solutions such as building more affordable homes, we can change this.”

The figures come just a day after the Government revealed it would bring forward £310 million promised in November’s Spending Review to prevent homelessness.

The funding will offer financial support for people to find a new home, to work with landlords to prevent evictions, or to provide temporary accommodation to ensure families have a roof over their head.

Government officials also say that the money will bolster the Homelessness Reduction Act, which has placed greater duty on councils to act to prevent homelessness since it came into force in 2018.

In addition, a Government report released on the same day also gave an update on the three Housing First pilots taking place in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and West Midlands.

The programmes – which give rough sleepers a home and wraparound support for as long as they need to help them overcome their personal issues – have so far failed to scale-up in the way that Crisis is calling for over the next decade.

The report concludes the pilots are “further behind where the providers and governing bodies had initially anticipated them” in terms of the number of people housed, citing finding and acquiring suitable housing as the “greatest challenge”.

However, all three pilots have reported “very positive stories regarding outcomes for service users” despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has already said in the House of Commons that lessons learned from the pilots are informing the Government’s efforts to move the people protected during the Everyone In scheme this year into long-term permanent homes. Almost 15,000 people were protected from the virus at Everyone In’s peak while ministers have promised 6,000 homes for rough sleepers over the next three years.

Jenrick said: “As we look back on an incredibly challenging year, everyone who has helped protect rough sleepers and those at risk of homelessness during this pandemic should be proud of the role they have played in our internationally recognised response.

“I am announcing £310 million to help councils protect those at risk of homelessness in the year ahead. We have a moral duty to help some of the most vulnerable people in our society rebuild their lives and look forward to a brighter future, and this funding will help us to realise that ambition.”

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