HOMELESSNESS could be wiped out in a decade if the Government makes a commitment to a plan to build 100,000 social homes a year, a new report by a charity suggests.
The plan, released by the homelessness charity Crisis, has been backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said that it would “help ensure that homelessness becomes a thing of the past”. The number of people homeless in Britain at present, he said, was a “tragedy”.
“Many churches support people who are homeless, befriending them and providing a listening ear, as well as offering food, night shelters, and other practical help. But there is so much more that we can, and should, all be doing as a society.”
The charity’s report, Everybody In: How to end homelessness in Great Britain, sets out a plan for the Government to follow.
It includes investment in building 105,000 new social-housing properties a year for the next 15 years; rolling out the Housing First scheme, which puts the most vulnerable people in accommodation immediately and gives them long-term support; and increasing housing benefit to cover private renting costs. Hospitals, prisons, and the care system would also be legally required to prevent people leaving their care from being homeless, and job centres would have homelessness specialists.
Crisis says that nearly 16,000 British households are living in what it describes as the worst forms of homelessness — sleeping rough on the streets, in cars, tents, or shelters — and that, without radical action, that number will double in the next 25 years.
The plan was drawn up with the help of the Chartered Institute of Housing, Heriot-Watt University, the National Housing Federation, and the accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), as well as frontline workers and people who have been homeless.
PwC has calculated that the policies would cost £9.9 billion over the next decade, but would deliver benefits, in the same period, of £26.4 billion.
The chief executive of Crisis, Jon Sparkes, said: “We must not become a society that simply accepts homelessness as a ‘sad fact of life’, because the good news is that we know it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right measures in place, we can do what it takes to end homelessness and make sure that no one in Britain has to face it again.”
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We are investing more than £1.2 billion to tackle all forms of homelessness, and just last week we announced £30 million for councils, to help boost the immediate support available to people living on the streets.
“We are also investing £9 billion to build more affordable homes, and are piloting the Housing First approach in three major regions.”