Planning For The Homeless Post-Lockdown

With nowhere safe to stay and the facilities and services they depended upon closed down or more limited, people who are homeless or sleeping rough have experienced the pandemic in a very particular way, which has brought additional anxiety and disruption to their lives, writes Matt Harrison for Homeless Link.

StreetLink saw alerts increase from 6,465 in the six weeks before lockdown to 9,841 (52%) in the first six weeks of staying at home from 23 March, as people sleeping rough sought help, new people became homeless and public concern grew as a result of the virus. Towards the start of the lockdown however, the Government recognised the urgent need to protect those sleeping on our streets and instructed councils to bring ‘Everyone In’. The resulting effort over the following weeks saw 15,000 people who were sleeping rough or in insecure housing placed in emergency accommodation including hotels and B&Bs.

Thousands more people received ongoing support in hostels and other services to socially distance safely and cope with the changes that the Government brought in. Homelessness charity staff, classified as key workers, dedicated themselves to protecting the people they support, and found new ways of working, including offering support remotely, delivering meals to individuals and providing well-being activity packs.

The efforts of homelessness services nationwide, alongside decisive local and national government action has demonstrated that the right level of focus and investment can reduce rough sleeping. It has also paved the way for unprecedented local partnership working, community innovation and the successful engagement of individuals with complex needs for the first time. However, the emergency accommodation was only a temporary solution.

Homelessness professionals believe that we have a unique opportunity to build on this progress, providing sustainable accommodation solutions for all those housed through ‘Everyone In’, while supporting those newly at risk of homelessness. If we are to end rough sleeping for good, it will also be vital that we tackle the systemic factors causing homelessness in the first place, including the under-supply of affordable housing, health inequalities and a precarious welfare system.

As we move to the next phase of the response, and with hotels soon to reopen to the public, the Government has pledged to provide 6,000 new supported homes, with 3,300 made available in the next twelve months. Its rough sleeping taskforce is advising councils on plans to support rough sleepers into long-term, safe housing so that no one has to return to the streets. Where these long-term solutions are not yet in place, the Government is allocating £105 million to provide interim accommodation, helping people sleeping rough to secure their own tenancies as well as provide short-term accommodation.

Sadly, we know that new people have been and will be forced to sleep rough, many due to loss of income or a breakdown in family relationship as a result of the virus. These people may not be known to services, so please do continue to use StreetLink to send an alert when you see someone, so that we can connect them to local support as early as possible. This will be particularly important in the hot weather, when people’s health is just as much at risk as it is during freezing temperatures.

Having received a greater number of alerts and calls throughout the pandemic, the StreetLink team worked hard to ensure that people were connected with the local outreach team so that they could be referred into the emergency accommodation. We’ve also signposted people to other services that can help, checked to see whether they have any health concerns, including Covid, and continued to run our London advice line for people sleeping rough. We expect to be equally busy over the summer and we appreciate your support.

If we plan our next set of actions carefully and all work together to achieve them, we should see a significant leap in progress in our ambition to end rough sleeping once and for all.

Matt Harrison is the director of business and social enterprise at Homeless Link.

Councils ‘Illegally Relocating’ Homeless People

Councils across England are systematically breaking the law by relocating hundreds of homeless people outside of their boroughs without notifying the authorities receiving them.

An investigation by ITV found that schools are being overwhelmed, with northern cities such as Bradford having received at least 290 households from 31 different boroughs in the past two years, many of them from London, Kent and Essex, reports The Guardian. If a homeless person is moved elsewhere in the country, local authorities are legally supposed to notify the council in charge of where they are being placed so social, medical and educational support can be put in place. But a Ross Kemp ITV documentary found that at least 60 councils failed to comply with this legal duty.

The investigation found:

  • Failures have resulted in schools in some areas facing a doubling of demand for class places and food banks being overwhelmed by unexpected demand.
  • The council leader of Basildon, Essex, said his authority had no choice but to find residents new homes in northern counties because its housing stock was being used by London councils which could outbid his for private rented accommodation. This domino effect is exhibited across the country.
  • Some councils are buying properties outside their areas for the express purpose of accommodating residents. Seven London authorities have spent more than £80m on property in other boroughs in the capital, Kent, Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire, despite homelessness guidance that says residents should stay in their home neighbourhoods unless in exceptional circumstances.

Gavin Callaghan, the leader of Basildon council, said: “In the last four years, we’ve had an entire primary school’s worth of children come into our borough from other boroughs. And 58% of the time we haven’t been notified when people have been moved into the borough. We need to know to make sure enough school places are available. It puts pressure on our other local services; GP surgeries and hospital are under huge pressure.”

He said that moving people was not solving the homelessness crisis. “We are talking about some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and we are not providing services, not through any fault of council or other services, but because we simply don’t know about these people until they present needing services.”

He added that with so much of Basildon’s available housing stock being used by London councils, his council was finding it difficult to source local accommodation for its own residents at risk of homelessness. “We have seen some of our residents leave the borough, they’ve gone as far as Durham and Nottingham. It’s an absolute last resort and we try to always work with people to see if they have family connections and a support network.”

The homelessness code of guidance states that households should be found accommodation within their boroughs, so far as is reasonably practicable. However, through freedom of information requests, the documentary found that since 2018, individuals and families have been moved a total of around 400,000 miles away from their local areas, the equivalent of 16 times around the world. The displacement does not only involve households being moved from south to north. Councils from every region in England are securing accommodation for residents in other areas all around the UK, including Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and some households are being relocated up to 550 miles from their home boroughs.

Among the areas receiving the most homeless people are Birmingham, with 370 households from 44 different councils; Manchester, 112 households from 36 councils; and Thurrock, in Essex, to which 125 households were relocated in recent years. About 28,000 households are moved out of their boroughs every year, leading to accusations of social cleansing. Eight years ago, Boris Johnson, the then mayor of London, criticised councils that were moving housing benefit claimants out of the capital, saying he would not have “Kosovo-style social cleansing” of poor people in London.

The documentary explores the detrimental effects on uprooted families and uncovers stories of housing officers telling families from Kent and Essex that if they refused to accept offers of accommodation in Bradford, 200 miles away, they would be declaring themselves intentionally homeless and risked having their children taken into care.

Plans To Move Liverpool’s Rough Sleepers Into Permanent Homes

Hundreds of homeless people are set to be moved out of temporary hostels and into homes in plans that have been praised by charities as providing a path towards ending homelessness, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Liverpool, like other local authorities, has been providing emergency accommodation for the homeless in hostels and hotels in the city to try to limit the spread of coronavirus among the homeless population. With the UK now set to leave lockdown, the council is moving to make sure homeless people are moved into longer term accommodation with housing associations and other providers.

The plan will mean a temporary suspension of the open bidding system through which anyone in Liverpool applies for social housing, meaning others looking to move homes could miss out. According to documents submitted to the council’s cabinet, at least 370 people are expected to need new homes under the next stage of the council’s Homelessness Recovery Plan.

Paul Brant, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said the council was determined to prevent the city ‘sliding back’ to its pre-pandemic homelessness numbers. Councillor Brant said: “Working with housing charities and local social housing providers this scheme provides a piece of the jigsaw of measures which are being put in place. Resolving rough sleeping is a huge complex issue. I’m proud that Liverpool City Council is leading the way on this issue.”

The move has been praised by homelessness charities. Jon Sparkes, chief executive of national homelessness charity Crisis, said the plan charted a course towards ending homelessness. He said: “If there is one silver lining from the pandemic it is that, with the right support, people who were sleeping rough may never have to return to the streets again.”

He added: “The outbreak has brought the value of home into sharp relief – everyone should have somewhere safe and settled to call home. This combined effort will not only help to end the homelessness of hundreds across the city, but provides clear evidence that homelessness can be ended for good when the political will is there.”

In order to cope with the large numbers of people needing new homes, the council is planning to suspend the usual bidding process on Property Pool Plus, the system through which families looking for new homes bid for properties. Any properties that are not suitable as part of the push to rehouse people will be placed on Property Pool Plus and be open for bidding under the normal system.

A report submitted to the council’s cabinet says that housing associations across the city have identified more than 200 properties that are available, with half of these having been matched to individuals. Tenants will also receive furniture packages and homemaker packages including crockery, cutlery and utensils through Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme. The move will be funded through the council’s existing budget as well as a government pot of money announced earlier this month to help local authorities avoid having people return to the streets after lockdown.

More Money To Prevent Rough Sleepers Returning To The Streets

On 24 June, the Government announced an additional £85 million to prevent thousands of people currently in emergency accommodation from having to return to rough sleeping during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The money will be used to support rough sleepers and those at risk of homelessness into tenancies of their own, including through help with deposits for accommodation, and securing thousands of alternative rooms already available and ready for use, such as student accommodation. The extra funding takes the total amount provided this year by government to support rough sleepers and those on the brink of becoming homeless to over half a billion pounds.

The government-led drive has brought together councils, charities, the private hospitality sector and community groups with the joint aim of protecting some of the most vulnerable people in society from COVID-19, and helping them turn around their lives and get them off the streets for good. It has come during one of the most challenging periods we have ever faced as a nation. The announcement comes as plans to provide 6,000 long-term, safe homes continue at pace, to ensure the work being done to take society’s most vulnerable off the streets during the pandemic has a lasting impact.

Last month, the government unveiled plans to support thousands of rough sleepers currently housed in emergency accommodation to move on to more sustainable, long-term housing, with 3,300 additional supported homes to be provided this year. A further £16 million is also being provided so that vulnerable people currently in emergency accommodation can access they specialist help they need for substance misuse issues, in order to rebuild their lives and move towards work and education.

Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, said: “In recent months, I have seen a huge effort across the country to keep almost 15,000 vulnerable people off the streets. This has been vital to ensure their safety during the peak of the pandemic and has changed the lives of thousands for the better. The additional funding announced today will allow us to continue to support these individuals – giving them access to the accommodation and support they need now while we continue with plans to deliver thousands of long-term homes in the coming months.”

“Together, this takes the funding provided by government for vulnerable rough sleepers and those at risk of becoming homeless to over half a billion this year – an unprecedented commitment as we move towards ending rough sleeping for good. The money will provide interim accommodation, helping people sleeping rough to secure their own tenancies as well as provide short-term accommodation, while the delivery of long-term housing continues.”

Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, said: “This is a critical intervention. Hotels and other emergency accommodation sourced during lockdown were mostly due to close at the end of June, with a real risk of people returning to the streets as councils came under extreme time and resource pressure to find alternative housing.”

“If executed swiftly, this will undoubtedly prevent many from being forced back into rough sleeping and enable support to continue and trusting relationships to be built. However, once again it is an interim measure only. It will be vital that appropriate long-term housing and support provision is organised swiftly – and for everyone – to ensure that people are able to leave rough sleeping behind them for good.”

“This must be achieved alongside a focus on tackling the underlying causes of homelessness, and supporting those becoming newly homeless, including people with no recourse to public funds. Without this broader approach, we risk a rise in rough sleeping just as we increase efforts to end it.”

New Funding For Rough Sleepers Only A ‘Sticking Plaster’

Councils and charities have expressed concern that new government funding to support rough sleepers moving out of hotels will exclude thousands of homeless people because of their immigration status.

The government announced £85m in new funding on Wednesday to provide interim support for about 15,000 vulnerable people who have been accommodated in hotels and other forms of emergency accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic, reports The Independent. Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, said the money would be used to support rough sleepers and those at risk of homelessness into tenancies of their own, including through help with deposits for accommodation, and securing thousands of alternative rooms already available and ready for use, such as student accommodation.

However, charities said the announcement would amount to only a “sticking plaster” unless it was accompanied by a suspension of the “no recourse to public funds” (NRPF) condition and a commitment for suitable housing for everyone, regardless of their immigration status. Up to half of homeless people in some areas have an NRPF condition attached to their immigration status, meaning that — although many in this position can legally live and work in the UK — they are not eligible for financial or housing support.

The funding announcement from the government on Wednesday made no mention of whether people with NRPF were to be included. A government spokesperson later told The Independent that local authorities must “use their judgement in assessing what support they may lawfully give to each person on an individual basis, considering that person’s specific circumstances and support needs”. However, Ministers have been accused of failing to provide clarity to councils on whether these individuals should be included in the plans to move people on from emergency accommodation, prompting concerns that many will end up back on the street.

Benjamin Morgan, coordinator of the European Economic Area homeless rights project at the Public Interest Law Centre, told The Independent any sustainable strategy to end rough sleeping had to involve “scrapping the disastrous immigration policies” that he said forced some people to sleep rough in the first place. He said: “Today’s announcement will do little to allay the fears of those we support. It makes no mention of the significant proportion of homeless people – more than 50%in some areas – who have no recourse to public funds. Nor is there any clear indication of how the funding is to be allocated or how long it is expected to last. Anything short of an end to the NRPF regime and a commitment to suitable housing for all will only ever be a sticking plaster.”

Anna Miller, head of policy and advocacy at Doctors of the World UK, said that while the funding was welcome, the charity was “disappointed” that support for people with NRPF had not been addressed, despite the fact that restrictions on housing support based on immigration status were a “key driver” of homelessness. She added: “At our clinic, we often see patients who are barred from accessing support and, if they lose their source of income, end up living in destitution or on the streets. It is critical that this support is available to everyone who needs it, regardless of their visa status. This coronavirus does not discriminate on the grounds of visa status and nor must public health measures.“

Councillor David Renard, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesperson, welcomed the funding, but said councils would like to see it followed by an announcement to temporarily remove the NRPF condition during the current crisis to “reduce public health risks and pressures on homelessness services by enabling people to access welfare benefits”.

Announcing the funding, Mr Jenrick said: “In recent months, I have seen a huge effort across the country to keep almost 15,000 vulnerable people off the streets. This has been vital to ensure their safety during the peak of the pandemic and has changed the lives of thousands for the better. The additional funding announced today will allow us to continue to support these individuals – giving them access to the accommodation and support they need now while we continue with plans to deliver thousands of long-term homes in the coming months.”

Extra Funding To Help Homeless Charities During The Pandemic

The COVID-19 Homelessness Response Fund is providing £6 million of emergency funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to 133 frontline homelessness charities whose finances have been directly affected by the Coronavirus.

Homeless Link is distributing the funding, with the decisions of an independent grants panel announced on 7 June 2020. The following information aims to clarify the procedures followed.

  • The COVID-19 Homelessness Response Fund was heavily oversubscribed, receiving almost 300 applications, from member and non-members of Homeless Link across the country.
  • An independent grants panel was brought together to assess the applications, with members including representatives from MHCLG and grants managers from other national funders.
  • Each application was assessed according to the grants criteria and application guidance, and decisions were based on the application alone to allow a level playing field.
  • The high number of applications meant that, unfortunately, the panel was unable to allocate grants to every organisation that applied. While many of the unsuccessful applicants were entirely deserving of support, the pot of funding was limited and difficult decisions had to be made – in these situations, the assessors followed the fund eligibility criteria and guidelines to guide decisions.
  • Homeless Link is working to secure additional funding to re-open a second round of grants. This would allow organisations not funded in the first round to reapply, as well as giving others an opportunity to bid for funds. Organisations will be strongly advised to follow the available guidance as closely as they are able when submitting their application.

The organisations being supported cover a wide spectrum of homelessness provision, from specialist services supporting young people, women, and those who identify as LGBTQ+, to those providing soup kitchens and essential supplies and support to people sleeping rough.

The financial assistance they receive will protect them against closure, service cuts and staff redundancies due to the increased operational costs and a loss or fundraised income caused by the pandemic. Crucially, this will ensure that people experiencing homelessness can continue to receive the support they need to recover and move on. All grantees are organisations with an annual turnover of less than £5 million, where over half of beneficiaries are people experiencing homelessness. Awards must be spent by 30 October 2020.

Homeless Link is pleased to be able to provide this critical support to frontline services, and will shortly announce further opportunities for agencies to apply for funding for emergency relief, and to develop new services, in this financial year.

What Will Happen To The Temporarily Housed Homeless?

Thousands of homeless people put up in places like hotels and B&Bs due to coronavirus are still in emergency accommodation.

Charities say there are just weeks to stop them returning to the streets as premises prepare to reopen, reports BBC news. Their research found three quarters of homeless people in 17 areas are still in temporary accommodation with some already sleeping rough again. Seventeen of those councils provided comparable data and between them they housed 3,258 homeless people under the Everyone In scheme.

Most of the homeless people were still in that temporary accommodation as of last week but 80 were already back on the streets. With hotels set to reopen to the public from 4 July, charities say a plan is needed to move thousands of homeless people into alternative accommodation. In March, councils were told to move homeless people off the streets and out of communal shelters as the lockdown began. The government says about 14,500 people were found emergency accommodation across England.

Data from 17 councils revealed 80 of the 3,258 people they brought in off the streets were already sleeping rough again while 230 had already been found a permanent home. The councils – who recorded some of the largest figures in the government’s annual rough sleeping snapshot – said hundreds more no longer needed housing, with some having moved to different parts of the country or moving in with friends or family. At least one rough sleeper has died, according to Manchester City Council.

Everyone helped by Westminster, Islington, Newham and Lambeth councils was still in their temporary accommodation as of last week, compared with about 40% of those sheltered by Hillingdon council, which said everyone else no longer needed it.

Petra Salva, the director of rough sleeping services at homelessness charity St Mungos said it had been a “gargantuan effort” to get people off the streets. She said “the pressure is now on” to find alternative accommodation as hotel owners start to want their rooms back. “This is super urgent,” she said. “Conversations are starting to happen around exit planning – we’ve got weeks, at best some months to find alternative solutions.”

Homelessness charity Crisis warned of a cliff-edge at the end of June when many council contracts with hotels come to and end. And Balbir Chatrik, director of policy for youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, told the BBC the government could not leave the task to councils alone. “Ministers cannot wash their hands of this when they know that most councils lack the funds needed to continue this programme without the continued support from central government.”

The Local Government Association said councils needed “clarity” about what further help they would get. Councils were told to submit plans for what happens next to the thousands of rough sleepers they are currently housing. Dame Louise Casey’s rough sleeping taskforce will consider these plans and decide whether to recommend further action.

A government spokesperson praised councils’ “staggering efforts” so far. They said the taskforce “aims to ensure as many people as possible who have been brought in off the streets in this pandemic do not return to sleeping rough. We’ve been clear councils must continue to provide safe accommodation to vulnerable rough sleepers and support those moving on from emergency accommodation.”

Prison Leavers At Risk Of Homelessness

More than 1,000 prisoners were released into homelessness at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in England and Wales, figures show, prompting the government to increase funding for accommodation for prison leavers.

Figures released to the Labour MP Lyn Brown show 840 men, 89 women and 85 young adults aged 18 to 24 were released into rough sleeping or other forms of homelessness between 23 March, when the lockdown was imposed, and 30 April, reports The Guardian. A further 1,209 men, women and young adults were released with unknown circumstances for accommodation in the same period.

Brown, the shadow minister for prisons and probation, said: “Homelessness for prison leavers prevents rehabilitation, drives re-offending, and is an obvious public health danger during the pandemic. If prison leavers don’t have a decent place to stay, they don’t get a second chance and the public aren’t protected. The Government must guarantee all prison leavers are provided with the right support to break the cycle of re-offence, not just during this crisis, but permanently.”

In response to the parliamentary question, the justice minister Lucy Frazer revealed that “due to public health concerns and public protection considerations, there is a need to provide accommodation for a larger cohort of prison leavers”, and funding had been increased. “The Ministry of Justice has secured appropriate funding for a time-limited period to support the provision of accommodation for all individuals released from prison at risk of homelessness,” Frazer said. She added: “We are working closely across government to ensure that all individuals released at risk of homelessness receive necessary support to help them secure somewhere to live.”

The additional funding will run until 26 June, at which point it will be reviewed. The MoJ has been approached for comment. Between 23 March and 30 April, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus rose from about 11,000 to approximately 126,000. The figures released to Brown show that about 15% of all women and 14% of all men released from prison during the period were released into rough sleeping or other forms of homelessness, compared with 6% of young adults.

Campbell Robb, the chief executive of Nacro, a charity that provides assistance to prison leavers in finding accommodation, help with finances and finding training or employment to resettle into the community, said: For far too long the scandal of people leaving prison homeless with little chance to turn their lives around has been overlooked. We see through our work on the ground that the need for action during the coronavirus pandemic has been even greater.

He added: “The additional funding from the Ministry of Justice is a welcome step. But with so many prison leavers being at risk of homelessness we mustn’t let this focus suddenly end after June. We need to see a long-term commitment to everyone leaving prison having somewhere to stay. It’s time we gave people the best chance at a second chance.”

Peter Dawson, director at the Prison Reform Trust, said: “Every single person released from prison is subject to probation supervision. So it is extraordinary that for nearly a third of adult men and women discharged during the pandemic, no-one has known where they are going to be living. Almost all have left with just £46 from the government to manage on. How those people are supposed to “stay at home to protect the NHS” defies understanding. In the same period, the government has spent over £4m building temporary cells inside the prison walls. It’s surely time to reassess priorities.”

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “With the spread of coronavirus confirmed in almost every prison in the country, it is vital that as many people as possible are enabled to return to the community safely. Leaving people to fend for themselves on the streets during a pandemic puts them, and us, at risk. The government must ensure that people leaving prison have somewhere to live and the support they need to move away from crime and build a brighter future.”

Government Plans For The Homeless Of Liverpool ‘Not Enough’

The coronavirus crisis has seen extraordinary change in our city. The city centre was left deserted, acts of kindness from the community grew and millions stayed indoors to curb the spread of the virus.

One of the most remarkable and hopeful changes was dozens of rough sleepers being offered accommodation as part of the Government’s ‘Everybody In’ scheme, reports the Liverpool Echo. As part of the scheme, the Government has given councils across the country £3.2bn since March to support homeless people and helped to house about 5,400. And in May, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced the government was pledging to build 6,000 new homes to provide shelter for rough sleepers. At a cost of £160 million, this will include 3,300 in the next year, he said.

The announcement was lauded as a positive one, and there was finally hope the number of people sleeping rough would reduce over the long term. But some have suggested the move isn’t good enough, and it won’t go far enough to support the most vulnerable – especially in Liverpool.

Papercup Project charity founder and homelessness campaigner, Michelle Langan, who has worked tirelessly to help rough sleepers in Liverpool said she didn’t think Mr Jenrick’s pledge would be enough. She said: “I think personally when you look at what his plans are, I think most of that accommodation will be in London. I think when people see the overall figure, they probably think ‘Wow thats a lot of homes’. But I know personally that one of the charities in London has been feeding 2,000 people in temporary accommodation, so already that’s 2,000 people that are going to be looking for follow-on accommodation. When you spread that across the whole of the country, I think 6,000 would be quite a thin spread to get everybody inside. I’m not really sure that’s enough.”

As well as this, Michelle said there were still key issues to be addressed – such as people who have no access to public funds and the thousands of people across the country expected to be made homeless after coronavirus. She said: “While it’s good what they’ve announced, I don’t really think it’s enough. There’s still things that need to be addressed. At the moment, going forward, there will be people who’ve got no recourse to public funds. And what that means is it’s like a hostile environment policy, so if anyone is an immigrant, or whatever, they’re not entitled to benefits or anything like that.”

“We’ve been worried about the effect on those people and those people falling through the cracks. The government haven’t announced what their provision will be for those people. They’ve also not announced what will happen to newly homeless people At the moment it’s talking about people already inside. If people become newly homeless – where’s the provision for them? And what will happen to them? Will there be accommodation available for them? Once this provision that’s been going on during coronavirus comes to an end, there’s no provision to say they will carry on funding that.”

Liverpool City Council has already announced it will make a commitment to say it will carry on accommodating homeless people – which Michelle praised as “brilliant”. But the council’s budget has faced cuts higher than other local authorities in the country, which will make it even harder for us to support people with no access to public funds.

Michelle said: “From a local perspective, Liverpool have made a commitment to say that they will carry on accommodating people, which is brilliant. It’s been assured that no one’s going to be getting kicked out. But there is an issue with this no recourse to public funds. As we know and as we all know, Liverpool as a local authority has really had its budget cut. For us as a city to cover the cost of those people who have no recourse to public funds its obviously going to eat into a budget of something else.”

She added: “What we as a charity would like to see is the Government to remove the no recourse to public funds condition so everybody gets the same help regardless of what their background is or what their circumstances are.”

The Housing First approach, launched by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, includes 16 newly trained staff members to head out onto the streets tasked with helping people getting into homes. This is then followed by organising services that will help them stay there. Speaking about Mr Jenrick’s announcement, Mr Rotheram said we need to know more detail.

He told the Echo: “Any new homes for people who are rough sleeping are to be welcomed, but as with all government announcements, we need to see the detail before we know the impact it will have here. We are one of the only places in the country to be piloting a Housing First approach to homelessness. As the name suggests people are given accommodation as a starting point with wraparound support for their often-complex need and we will continue this approach to housing people with the most complex needs.”

He added: “Our local councils have worked incredibly hard during the pandemic to house hundreds of homeless people. This crisis has shown that it is possible to tackle rough sleeping if the Government provides councils with the proper funding to do so. Ministers need to commit to continuing this funding in the long term, so that this progress is not lost.”

Homeless Link Annual Review

The 2019 report ‘Support For People Experiencing Single Homelessness In England’ will act as an important benchmark as, since collecting the data, the sector has adapted to support the needs of people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. It will be crucial for us to capture the effects of the changes in the next Annual Review.

Every year thousands of people at risk of and experiencing homelessness rely on homelessness services for accommodation, advice and other forms of support.  ‘Support for People Experiencing Single Homelessness in England 2019’ captures vital evidence about who is accessing homelessness services, and the range of support provided by accommodation providers and day centres. The Annual Review, as it is also known, continues to be a key data source about the homelessness sector in England, and key findings from the twelfth report are highlighted below.

Homelessness in numbers:

  • There are currently 33,898 bed spaces available in homelessness accommodation projects – 22% fewer than 2010.
  • The number of accommodation services has decreased by 9% than the previous year.
  • 77% of accommodation projects provide services to help prevent homelessness.
  • 27% of accommodation projects have experienced a decrease in funding.
  • 19% of accommodation projects have seen their funding increase.
  • Who is seeking help from services?
  • The majority of clients accessing accommodation services are male (64%). The proportion of women accessing accommodation (28%) and day centres (19%) remains relatively low.
  • 35% of people accessing accommodation services and 13% of those accessing day centres are young people aged 18-25.
  • 20% of people using accommodation services have experience of the criminal justice system, and 21% have previously slept rough.
  • Mental Health challenges are the most commonly reported support need for people accessing accommodation providers (42%) and day centres (50%).

What support is needed?

Findings from the Annual Review suggest that a majority of people accessing homelessness services have support needs in areas other than their housing. 53% of accommodation providers reported all of their residents had support needs beyond their accommodation needs.

Both accommodation providers (67%) and day centres (87%) help address people’s immediate and basic needs – such as providing food and washing facilities – in-house. However, support goes much beyond this, and the report shows the range of activities and interventions offered, from life skills training, welfare and debt advice to drug and alcohol services.

It is Homeless Link’s ambition that every person has a home and support they need to keep it. The Annual Review data provides an insight into the work that happens to help make this a reality, and also highlights challenges facing the sector in achieving this aim.

This year, 72% of accommodation providers in England reported that the lack of accommodation available at LHA rates was a barrier to people moving on from their services. 70% of respondents specifically reported that clients being excluded by housing providers due to previous debt or rent arrears was a further barrier to moving on. At 43%, the most common move-on destination for clients is social housing, compared to the private rented sector at 12%.

Homeless Link will use this vital data to support the sector by advocating for evidence-based change and by developing a range of services for organisations both within and beyond the sector. They would like to wholeheartedly thank all of the organisations and individuals who took the time out of their busy schedule to participate.