St Mungo’s clients and campaigners have today handed in an open letter to the Secretary of State for Housing James Brokenshire, urging the government to put an end to rough sleeping.
The ‘Home for Good’ letter is from former St Mungo’s client, Kevin Farrell, and has been signed by over 21,300 people.
The campaign is calling on the government to ‘urgently’ commit to providing more social housing; a more secure and affordable private rented sector; and a new programme of long-term, guaranteed funding for homelessness services, to make sure no one has to ‘face the dangers’ of life on the streets.
The campaigners’ action comes ahead of a timely debate in parliament, where MPs will discuss what needs to be done to end rough sleeping.
Figures released by the government last month showed that the number of people sleeping rough had fallen slightly (by 2%, or 74 people) for the first time following seven consecutive years of rises, but is still 165% higher than in 2010, when the current methodology for recording rough sleeping was introduced.
On the charity campaign, Kevin Farrell said: “I’ve lived on the streets, in hostels, in a private rented flat and in social housing.
“These days, I’m thriving. I know that with the right housing and support, everyone can turn their life around. But not enough people are able to get a social tenancy like mine, and keeping a private tenancy can be so hard if you’re not getting support.
“The government has the power to end rough sleeping, but it’s not just about putting a roof over someone’s head. People sleeping rough need a home for good – somewhere that offers safety, stability and the support they need to rebuild their lives.”
Howard Sinclair, CEO of St Mungo’s, added, “Last week’s report on the number of people sleeping rough across England shows how urgent Government intervention is.
“In 2017 alone almost 600 people died while living on the streets or in emergency accommodation. This is a national scandal and worse still most of these deaths are premature and entirely preventable.”
He added that: “We need urgent action, not only to provide emergency support to people sleeping rough now, but also to reverse the years of funding cuts which have devastated crucial services helping people move on from rough sleeping, or to avoid it in the first place.
“The new Rough Seeping Strategy is a welcome first step, but short-term investment and small-scale pilots will not fix a broken system.
“If the government is serious about achieving its aim of ending rough sleeping for good by 2027, it must do much more.”