Plans to provide thousands of long-term, safe homes for vulnerable rough sleepers taken off the streets during the pandemic have been unveiled by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP.
This commitment will be backed by £160 million this year and will support many of the thousands of rough sleepers currently housed in emergency accommodation to move on to more sustainable, long-term housing. By accelerating plans for the £381 million announced for rough sleeping services at Budget – now extended to £433 million – the funding will ensure that 6,000 new housing units will be put into the system, with 3,300 of these becoming available in the next 12 months.
In addition to accelerating this capital spend for investment in housing stock, the government is also increasing the revenue support of the total programme by 37% to make sure that the rough sleepers have the support they need to stay off the streets for good. Once in their new home, rough sleepers will be supported by specialist staff to access the help they need, such as support for mental health or substance abuse problems, so they can rebuild their lives, move towards training and work, and remain off the streets for good.
Thanks to the efforts of charities, local government and other partners, in just over two months, more than 90% of rough sleepers known to councils at the beginning of the pandemic have now been offered accommodation where they can remain safe and able to protect themselves during the crisis. The plans are being pulled together by the Rough Sleeping Covid 19 Response Taskforce, led by Dame Louise Casey, bringing together local government, charities, faith groups, public sector partners and businesses in order to use the coronavirus crisis and current successful work so far in bringing ‘everyone in’ as a catalyst towards ending rough sleeping for good.
As part of this commitment, Homes England, in partnership with Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has pledged to work hand-in-hand with leading housing associations and local authorities to fast-track thousands of units of longer-term accommodation for rough sleepers needed now.
Over the coming weeks, government will work in partnership with councils, local leaders and the property sector to ensure this new generation of housing for some of the most vulnerable in society is delivered as quickly as possible and in the most cost-effective way. Interim accommodation is also being committed by the YHA, the YMCA and some universities. The taskforce will continue to work with partners on this so that nobody has to go back to the streets.