Radical plans to provide thousands of long-term, safe homes for vulnerable rough sleepers taken off the streets during the pandemic were unveiled today (24 May 2020) by the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP.
Last month a specialist taskforce was created to lead the government’s programme of support for rough sleepers during the pandemic. Thanks to the efforts of the Housing department, King's lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, the Purfleet Trust, Night Shelter, local hotels - replicated by others groups nationally - in just over two months, more than 90% of rough sleepers have now been offered accommodation where they can remain safe and able to protect themselves during the crisis.
This new 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. 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.
James Wild MP said -
After the formation of a new specialist rough-sleeping taskforce, I was pleased to speak to the Purfleet Trust about how we can support rough sleepers in West Norfolk into long term, safe accommodation once lockdown is lifted.
I am delighted by this new plan shows the ambition to end rough sleeping for good and provide specialist support to help turn people's lives around.'
This announcement means the government have increased the previously announced £381 million pledge towards ending rough sleeping services to £433 million. This increase in funding will ensure that 6,000 new housing units are put into the system, with 3,300 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.
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.