The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has announced the investment of £19.2m to boost homeless services across the capital – almost double the previously announced budget.
According to reports, last year saw almost 8,855 people sleeping rough on the streets of London – more than double the number in 2010/11.
This is said to be due to a number of factors including a lack of genuinely affordable housing for Londoners, welfare reform, cuts to health and social services, and the government failing to tackle the root causes of homelessness.
Today’s (21st October) announced funding will be used to support and expand the Mayor’s Life Off The Streets programme – made up of shelters, outreach teams, and support services working across London to help rough sleepers.
As reported by 24housing, Khan previously confirmed plans for the development of up to 200 homes to help former rough sleepers and victims of domestic abuse leave hostels and refuges.
As outlined in recent proposals, some of the projects the Mayor is funding this year include:
- Improved shelter provision for rough sleepers during the coldest months of the year, including extended opening hours for the network of shelters run by the GLA, boroughs, and other partners
- Increased funding for the Mayor’s Routes Home programme, helping non-UK national rough sleepers find accommodation and work in the UK or to voluntarily return to their home country
- Further support for Khan’s Rapid Response Team outreach service, enabling them to respond to Streetlink referrals quicker and help people access accommodation
- A small grants programme, helping to ensure night shelters across London have the equipment they need to help rough sleepers. The Mayor is pledging £300,000 to the Equipping Shelters Project, delivered by charity Housing Justice, in 2019/20 to replace the previous funding cut by the government
- Two new shelters designed specifically for people at risk of sleeping rough that night, staffed by a new team of experts providing 24-hour support to help people facing homelessness find permanent accommodation before they have to sleep on the streets
On the announcement, Sadiq Khan said: “The number of people sleeping rough on our streets is a national disgrace, and since becoming Mayor I have made it a priority to do everything in my power to tackle this crisis, including more than doubling my rough sleeping budget.
“This funding will support a wide range of projects, helping people who are already sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness and ensure they are given the best possible chance of pursuing a life off the streets.
“But we can’t do it alone – the government must urgently address the root causes of rough sleeping and reverse their policies which are forcing people onto the streets in the first place, including reversing welfare cuts and funding more council and social housing.”
The increased rough sleeping budget is made up of £11.9m from the Greater London Authority budget and £7.3m that the Mayor has secured from central government.
Howard Sinclair, CEO of St Mungo’s, said: “This significant investment by the Mayor recognises the different complex experiences of people sleeping rough, the need for specialist support, and the fundamental need to find somewhere safe to stay for people before they have to spend a single night sleeping rough.
“Tackling rough sleeping is about saving lives, finding routes off the streets for everyone, especially as winter approaches. We think people dying on the streets is a national tragedy.”
Kathy Mohan, CEO of Housing Justice, added: “The Equipping Shelters Project supports often small, community-based projects generally operating on tight budgets that offer hospitality and hope to more than 2,500 people experiencing homelessness each winter.
“Through the support of the Mayor of London, we have been able to increase capacity across the winter night shelter network in London, increasing bed nights by 25%, offering funding focussed on supporting sustainable routes off the street and building skills and knowledge across the network.”