Crisis sounds call to action

Joint action to challenge poverty and policy is needed to end homelessness, campaigners have warned.

homeless

The Crisis Conference in London heard that a 12-month action plan is being drawn up to reduce the number of people who are homeless, which is estimated to be more than 144,000.

The conference heard how numbers of every form of homelessness have risen since 2010 due to policy decisions and tightening conditions in the housing market.

CIH chief executive and Crisis board member, Terrie Allafat, told the event that working together to find solutions was the only way forward.

“We have to work with housing agencies, charities, local authorities and others to deliver. This isn’t something where we wait to decide what to do.”

She added that the general election campaign was “a great opportunity to share our views on how we want to end homelessness in this country. It will be interesting to see what might appear in those manifestos.”

The conference also heard prime minister Theresa May say in a video message that she was “determined to end homelessness”.

May said: “We are all of one view that homelessness in the 21st century is avoidable. Homelessness is about much more than putting a roof over someone’s head. It’s about preventing them becoming homeless in the first place. Homelessness is a problem that can be solved.”

Messages of support also came from the leaders of Scotland and Wales.

Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes revealed that over the next 12 months a panel of experts and partnerships will be created to gather evidence on the extent of homelessness across the UK. The charity will also seek to generate positive public attitudes to homelessness.

He added that the UK had the capability of helping the most vulnerable despite “destructive choices on welfare” because the country had assets too.

The key factors that must be tackled, experts revealed, are welfare reforms and the tightening housing market which together are encouraging landlords to end tenancies for those on local authority housing allowances.

Other factors are relationship breakdown, substance misuse and parental exclusion.

The conference heard the areas hardest hit are Northern cities, declining towns and ports, seaside towns and central London boroughs.

Sparkes said: “When we know homelessness is coming, we can prevent it. There are those who are helped by the system already. How can we strengthen the safety next?”

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