The Blog

Town halls aren’t to blame for homelessness | Patrick Butler

Although councils are shunting more and more homeless families miles away from home, the reason is a lack of affordable properties nearby

Despite eager anticipation, a commitment to change the law on homelessness failed to materialise in the Queen’s speech last week. This is perhaps surprising, given the chancellor George Osborne’s recent and unexpected recognition that homelessness was “unacceptable”. Even the Treasury, it seems, had sensed that Something Must Be Done.

Ministers, however, do not appear to be entirely in agreement on what that something is. It is, of course, always wise not to rush into legislation. The government’s recent history of botched policy – from the much-amended fiasco that is the housing bill, to forced school academisation – are cases in point.

In huge areas of the country, paying the rent and maintaining a tenancy will become harder for many families

Continue reading…
Source: Blog

Coalition, Labor and Greens urged to halve homelessness in next decade

Charities say 50% reduction in number of homeless Australians is ‘realistic’ as they draw attention to most vulnerable groups

Australia’s largest homelessness service providers have called on the major parties to make funding commitments to help halve homelessness in the next decade.

The charities Anglicare, Mission Australia, Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul, UnitingCare Australia and Wesley Mission have written to Coalition, Labor and Greens leaders calling on them to make homelessness a priority.

Related: Clean streets: the mobile laundry service helping Australia’s homeless

Related: How Sydney’s overheated housing market keeps young people on the streets

Continue reading…
Source: Blog

Councils 'forcing homeless families to relocate miles away'

Overstretched local authorities unlawfully moving people up to 100 miles from schools and support networks, says Shelter

Local authorities are unlawfully resettling homeless families in temporary housing far away from their local area, forcing them to spend hours travelling to schools and health services, a study has found.

The housing charity Shelter says some councils are guilty of unsafe practices by pressurising homeless families into accepting unsuitable housing up to 100 miles from where they live, causing them unnecessary hardship.

Related: London housing: the rising costs of temporary accommodation

Continue reading…
Source: Blog

London housing: the rising costs of temporary accommodation

The steady increase in the numbers of statutory homeless households in the capital is one of the most damaging features of its housing crisis

This isn’t exactly news. But anyone concerned with the state of London should read all about it anyway. For the past five years the number of households in the capital meeting the definition of “statutory homelessness” and placed in temporary accommodation has been edging up. Halfway through last year it rose to over 50,000 for the first time since 2008. The trend shows no sign of reversing: the most recent figure from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is for the final quarter of 2015 and stands at 50,970, representing an 8% increase on the same period of the previous year. Members of those households included 83,370 children.

The forms of temporary accommodation in which Londoners are housed include B&Bs, hostels, borough or housing association properties and, by far the largest number, homes either directly let by private sector landlords or leased from them by boroughs and housing associations. Over 17,000 of those 50,970 households have ended up living outside their home borough. No one is supposed to remain in temporary accommodation for more than six weeks. The DCLG figures say that in London 520 such households with children exceeded that limit during the last three months of 2015. The health and social consequences can be grievous.

I will co-ordinate councils’ efforts to find stable private rented housing for those in need who are not able to move into social housing, instead of desperate boroughs being forced to outbid each other for homes from landlords.

Continue reading…
Source: Blog

Homeless people need more mental health support, says charity

With four in 10 rough sleepers having a mental health problem, homelessness charity St Mungo’s has called for the government to invest in specialist support

Claire McMenemy has spent almost a lifetime drifting in and out of homelessness: sleeping rough on the streets, in a hostel bed or in a prison cell. Diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at the age of 13, she ran away from her Aberdeen home and was discovered by police on a London pavement. Two years later, and homeless once more, she tried to kill herself as her mental health deteriorated.

Today, nearly 30 years later, the 46-year-old is in her own flat, following support from outreach workers from homelessness charity St Mungo’s. Critically, she has also received talking therapy for her mental-health problems and is learning to understand how to stop self-harming and to control her impulsive behaviour.

Continue reading…
Source: Blog

Will new bill prevent homelessness in England? | Dawn Foster

Rough sleeping is on the increase in England, unlike Scotland and Wales, where councils now have a duty to prevent homelessness

The Queen’s speech today offers a chance for the government to take the lead on tackling the homelessness crisis, by introducing a homelessness bill rather than simply opine that the rough sleeping rates are too high and Something Must Be Done.

The most recent rough sleeping statistics report a total of 3,569 people sleeping on the streets in England in autumn 2015: up 825 (30%) from the total of 2,744 the previous year. In the autumn statement, George Osborne, pledged £10m to help councils tackle rough sleeping: local councillors across England and homelessness charities warned this was a drop in the ocean compared to the cuts councils had faced, and did little to alter the conditions homeless people find themselves in.

Related: Welsh law shows that early support prevents homelessness | Kate Murray

Continue reading…
Source: Blog

Will the Tories crawl back on devastating housing policy in the Queen's speech?

Since 2010 we’ve lost 100,000 council homes, £5bn in housing support and 45% of funds for homelessness services. Housing policy needs an overhaul

As the Queen gave royal assent to the housing and planning bill last week, ministers dropped heavy hints that another housing bill will be introduced in the Queen’s speech on Wednesday.

The last bill was forced through parliament despite a broad coalition of concern – from councils of all colours, housing experts and campaigners to politicians of all parties and none. The government lost twice as many votes on this bill – now the Housing and Planning Act – as it did on all its other legislation last year combined.

During the last parliament, ministers made thirteen separate cuts to housing benefit

Related: Leading government figures see social housing as toxic

Continue reading…
Source: Blog

One thank you – and my career helping homeless people was worthwhile

I was a key worker for a man on the brink. Decades later, when I was chief executive, he told me the difference my charity had made

Working on the frontline of street homelessness comes with its stresses. This was probably why my charity colleagues and I spend our Friday evenings drinking in our local pub.

One Friday, I had just been to the bar when a man walked purposefully towards me and simply said, “You’re Mike Fowler aren’t you?” I didn’t recognise him, and so answered cautiously. To be honest, I was worried he was seeking revenge. I’d worked for the organisation for several years and wondered whether he might have been one of our ex-clients who had been evicted.

Related: I opened my home to a heroin addict – she’s family now

Related: Volunteers and charity workers: tell us about the day you made a difference

Continue reading…
Source: Blog