Riverside has put their name to a letter signed by housing providers, homelessness organisations and sector leaders sent to Dame Louise Casey, who will be spearheading the Government’s taskforce into rough sleeping during the COVID pandemic.
The letter commends the government for leadership shown in the first phase of the pandemic to bring rough sleepers in doors, and the establishment of this taskforce to oversee what happens next. To ensure this prevents anyone returning the street, it recommends 7 principles by which we feel the taskforce should operate.
These include rapidly mobilising to understand people’s needs, identifying housing-led interventions and making available the finance which can support the expansion in support, supply and sustainment of tenancies which will be needed.
Riverside will continue to work with the taskforce to make this a reality, and with our partners in the many local areas where we are operationally involved in the response to COVID-19 for people who are homeless.
Dear Dame Louise,
We are a group of social housing providers, homelessness service providers, local and national charities and trade bodies of social housing providers and housing professionals.
We appreciate and welcome the leadership shown by national government to bring rough sleepers indoors, as part of the Everybody In initiative. Many of our members and partners have also been a key part of the massive effort made by local government to achieve that. This work has undoubtedly saved lives.
We are also encouraged to see the continuation of this commitment in the form of a new government taskforce to advise local authorities on supporting rough sleepers into long-term accommodation as lockdown begins to be lifted, and the recent funding announcements. We are confident that with you at the helm of this taskforce, real results will be seen for those rough sleepers who have been brought inside.
This commitment to securing long-term, post-lockdown housing solutions, accompanied by support and proportionate funding, is crucial to fulfilling the existing government objective to end rough sleeping.
We are keen to work with government, local authority partners and the newly formed taskforce to build on what has already been achieved collectively and make sure there are sustainable solutions for those currently accommodated and for those at risk of homelessness.
To make this a reality, we recommend the following as part of the plan to keep Everyone In and to end homelessness for all:
- Government should seize this opportunity and commit to no-one being returned to the street;
- National leadership is needed to encourage local cooperation. Local areas need the power and resource to support those currently accommodated and those coming into homelessness and build on the successful partnership working at local level;
- We must understand everyone’s needs and what is a suitable move-on option for each one of them and we must act fast to ensure everyone is included;
- Interventions must be housing-led and efforts must be made to understand what housing is available and what can be procured to facilitate rehousing of those who have been homeless;
- This commitment needs specific, long-term, earmarked funding for support, transition, welfare and conversion/acquisition of homes. The housing and homelessness sector will need increased funding to be able to continue providing a service and to make homes available;
- There needs to be continued, funded provision and community-based solutions for those who usually come up against legal barriers, including those currently debarred from benefits because of their immigration status;
- The welfare system must work for everyone and cover the cost of rent and support.
It is essential that work also focuses on those people at risk of homelessness because of the crisis, such as people fleeing domestic abuse, those in rent arrears, young people, prison leavers and people leaving hospital. It should take into account households already in temporary accommodation, and the economic and social stimulus, including social housebuilding at sufficient levels – at least 90,000 units per year – needed to prevent homelessness long-term.
We are keen to work with government to make this a reality and are at your disposal to meet and discuss the critical work that needs to happen now and must continue into the future. This is the right thing to do and is economically beneficial. Together, we can end rough sleeping and tackle the wider forms of homelessness.
Caritas Anchor House
Chartered Institute of Housing
Hightown Housing Association
Homes for Cathy
National Federation of ALMOs
National Housing Federation
Plus Dane Housing Association
Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick
South Yorkshire Housing Association