Where should homeless people live?

While the number of people who experience homelessness has been rising, the number of bed spaces in homeless hostels has been declining.

  • In 2010 there were 43,600 bed spaces in homelessness accommodation services. Today, this stands at 36,540.
  • In 2010 there were 1,768 people sleeping rough in England (using the government’s measure). In 2014 there were 2,744.
  • In 2010 Local Authorities accepted 42,390 household as homeless, in 2014 they accepted 53,250 as homeless.

Many homeless hostels were funded by through a government scheme called “supporting people”. This money is no longer ringfenced meaning councils can use the money for other things. Given the overall cuts in funding for councils, this is exactly what many have done.

The effect is that many single homeless people end up living in private hostels. While the anonymity of “dosshouses” can be attractive, it is a highly insecure way to live and not one that aids many people’s recovery.

Is this the future? More people being made homeless and fewer specialist services to support them. Sadly, a combination of austerity and so-called localism points that way.

The so-called ‘Housing first‘ model offers a glimpse of a different future. The model essentially works by giving homeless people a flat (i.e. paying their deposit and rent) and linking them with a worker who sees them for hours a day, helping them in whatever way is best.

Using this method Utah has seen a 72% reduction in the number of homeless people.

A bold Labour candidate for the Mayor of London could announce a pan-London Housing First scheme and end homelessness in the capital within 8 years.

4 thoughts on “Where should homeless people live?

  1. Nice idea but this ties in with the lack of council housing / social housing. Where do you find the flats to give them? Especially in the metropolitan areas where there is such a lack of one and two bedroom flats for everybody.

    • Agreed. If you’re going to offer private rented flats to people then you need to negotiate with the landlord to give greater security than is offered by an Assured Shorthold. Perhaps 2 year tenancies?

      • This is where the whole model falls down, along with the recent story of Westminster paying a fortune to buy back former council flats that had been sold with discount included but Westminster having to pay the market price to buy them back.

        Homelessness is a public problem that needs a publicly funded solution which does not include paying a private landlord a profit for housing somebody at the taxpayers’ expense.

        Hence, one more argument (if any were needed) for new council housing en mass so that housing is available for anybody who needs it, at cost, simply by filling in a form and waiting for example six months to a year maximum, as it used to be.

        We are in fierce agreement on both the problem and the solution.

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