Tackle root causes or risk missing homelessness target
published on 28 Jun 2022
The Salvation Army is calling for more targeted support to help people who are homeless despite new data that shows a fall in the number of rough sleepers in London.
The Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) annual report released today* shows that 8,329 slept rough in the capital in 2021/2022, a fall on the previous year. Last year 5,091 people – 61 per cent of the overall total - slept rough for the first time.
Although increased Government funding and a commitment to end rough sleeping within the current Parliament is welcome, the church and charity warns in a new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) inquiry the Government will fail to achieve this unless it prioritises addiction and mental health support services in future homelessness funding plans.
Examples of successful projects which help people break the homelessness cycle include Housing First. Working in partnership in Scotland and Wales, The Salvation Army has seen first hand how helping former rough sleepers with managing a budget and holding down a job futureproofs against a return to street living. This needs specialised, long-term support.
Hilarie Watchorn, The Salvation Army's Assistant Director of Homelessness Services, said: “We share the Government’s vision that rough sleeping should be a thing of the past but that means investing in people and their needs not just the place they will live.
“The Government has made a significant investment in ending homelessness and we urge them to channel this funding into services that help people deal with the reasons they ended up rough sleeping in the first place.
“The reality is many rough sleepers struggle with wider issues like addictions or acute mental health needs which left untreated often means a return to street sleeping. Seeing the person and their needs is not just morally the right thing but it saves money by easing the pressure on services like the NHS and police.”
Additionally, against a background of steep rises in the cost of living, the church and charity is concerned that a knock-on effect will mean more people may be at risk of losing their home.
In particular the church and charity is calling for:
- The availability of stable long-term shelter for those who were helped as part of ‘Everyone In’.
- Housing to include access to support for those with a complex history of rough sleeping to help them address issues such as poor mental health or addiction.
- Recent funding made available through the CSR must be centered on tackling the root causes of homelessness, including addictions and mental health.
- Further expansion and priority of innovative housing solutions to help solve rough sleeping and prevent homelessness such as modular housing with wrap around support.
- Robust methods for recording numbers of rough sleepers based on the London CHAIN figure method, so that support services can be properly planned and sufficiently funded.
- All benefits intended to help people on low incomes to keep up with inflation.
- Existing Universal Credit debt to be covered in the Government's 60 day 'Breathing Space' scheme, giving people more time to make repayments.