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Britain Could End Homelessness Within a Decade, Says Leading Charity

Homelessness in the UK could be consigned to the history books within a decade, according to a new report from leading charity Crisis.

The charity has released, for the first time ever, the outline of a plan that it says would put a stop to homelessness in all its forms in Britain. 

Currently, according to Crisis, there are 236,000 people in in England, Scotland, and Wales sleeping rough, living in cars or tents, in shelters, or in “unsuitable” temporary accommodation. 

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“We must not become a society that simply accepts homelessness as a ‘sad fact of life’,” said Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, reported the BBC. “It doesn’t have to be this way.” 

“For the first time ever, we have a comprehensive plan that shows exactly how we can address the root causes of homelessness and make it a thing of the past,” Sparkes added. 

“Other parts of the world are taking huge strides towards ending it, and Britain can too,” he said. 

Read more: This New Report Paints a Striking Picture of Destitution in the UK

According to Crisis, the plan in the report — entitled “Everybody In: How to end Homelessness in Great Britain” — is built up of “evidence-based solutions … building on what has worked at home and abroad to end homelessness.” 

The report is made up of an international evidence review, exploring what has worked to end homelessness both in the UK and elsewhere; a consultation with more than 1,000 people across Britain, including homelessness sector experts, and government officials; and newly commissioned research from academics and organisations. 

And it was developed with contributions from the Chartered Institute of Housing, Heriot-Watt University, the National Housing Federation, and accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), charity workers, and people who have been homeless.

Read more: The Number of British Homeless People Who've Died Has Doubled in the Last 5 Years

PwC put the estimated cost of the plan at £9.9 billion over the next 10 years, and said it would deliver benefits worth £26.4 billion. 

Specific recommendations include: 

  • Building at least 100,500 social homes each year for 15 years, for homeless people and those with low incomes
  • Making prisons and hospitals legally responsible for ensuring people in their care don’t became homeless when they leave
  • A national rollout of Housing First, a scheme that aims to find people homes and offer them long-term support, to benefit more than 18,000 people
  • Giving private renters more rights and longer tenancies
  • Raising housing benefits to meet the cost of private renting
  • Ensuring job centres have homelessness specialists

“Ending homelessness doesn’t mean that no-one will ever lose their home again,” read the report. “It means it rarely happens, and that there’s a quick solution when it does.” 

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“The best way to tackle homelessness is to stop it happening in the first place,” it said. “Where there are predictable routes into homelessness, like leaving the care system or prison, we should do everything we can to help people find and keep a home.”

“Preventing homelessness is cost effective — but more importantly, it is the right thing to do,” the report added. 

According to Crisis, there are almost 160,000 households “experiencing the worst forms of homelessness in Britain.” If we carry on on the same path, that number is expected to almost double in the next 25 years. 

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government, said in response to the Crisis report: “We are investing more than £1.2 billion to tackle all forms of homelessness and just last week we announced £30 million for councils to help boost the immediate support available to people living on the streets.” 

Read more: A Double-Decker Bus Is Being Turned Into a Homeless Shelter

“We are also investing £9 billion to build more affordable homes and are piloting the Housing First approach in three major regions to get people off the street and into stable accommodation,” the spokesperson added. 

In 2017, the number of people sleeping rough in England rose for the seventh consecutive year, reaching the highest it’s been since records began. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has launched a project to monitor the number of people who are dying while homeless in Britain, 78 people are known to have died while homeless in the 2017-8 winter. 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN’s Global Goals, which include action on ensuring that everyone has access to adequate shelter. You can join us by taking action on this issue here