Charity calls on government to change homelessness rules

6 Oct 17

A homelessness charity has called on the government to change rules on housing eligibility that “shut out many homeless people”, in a report released today.

Crisis said single homeless people often cannot join housing registers because of the rules that are effectively a ‘blanket ban’ on people without local connection to an area, a history of rent arears or of antisocial behaviour. 

The charity’s call comes after Theresa May’s pledge on Wednesday to add an extra £2bn to the affordable housing market, which Crisis said “will help” but would not end the issue of people “trapped in a cycle of homelessness”. 

“We know that homelessness is not inevitable,” said Jon Sparkes, chief executive at Crisis.

“With the right assistance, single homeless people can successfully secure a home to help them rebuild their lives.”

The charity also wanted the government to boost housing supply, fund Help to Rent projects to support single homeless tenants and require the government’s homelessness reduction taskforce to set targets for an adequate supply of housing for single people.

Sparkes said of the £9bn that will now be in the ‘affordable homes’ pot, after May’s speech on Wednesday: “We must make sure that enough of these homes are built to truly address our homelessness crisis, and to ensure people in the most vulnerable circumstances have access to them.”

The report Moving On: Improving access for single homeless people in England, which looked at the barriers to housing for those who fell outside the protection of homelessness legislation, said the access to social housing has been declining each year.

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “The new investment in affordable social rented homes announced by the government this week is welcome, but this report highlights once again just how far we still have to go.”

A cross-departmental approach by government was needed, she said.

Crisis’ report found around 200,000 single people experience homelessness in England each year and an estimated 77,000 single people on any one night.

May’s promise to give an extra £2bn is expected to create 25,000 new homes over 5 years.

The private rented sector has doubled its share of households from 10 to 20% in less than 20 years, Crisis said.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said councils across England will receive £402m to prevent and tackle homelessness over the next two years.

A spokesman for the department said: “This government is determined to help the most vulnerable in society.

“That’s why we’re implementing the Homelessness Reduction Act, which requires councils to provide support to people earlier, and investing £550m to 2020 to tackle homelessness.”

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