The Homes for Cathy conference has heard that housing can and should be doing more to end homelessness.
In the opening session, Terrie Alafat, CEO of the Charted Institute of Housing, said ending homelessness was “not something that cannot be done”.
She added: “We have to create an environment where we can truly end homelessness.”
In a common theme in the morning sessions, Alafat mentioned allocations, saying: “We know we need policy solutions but there are lots of things we can be getting on with.
“We have a scarce resource of social housing, and we have to ask questions about how we are using it.”
Alafat also called on associations to “be leaders on ending homelessness in our local areas” and urged the sector to “tell its story better” over what it can offer.
Also speaking at the conference was Jon Sparkes, CEO at Crisis, who said the Homes for Cathy pledges were an important but challenging way for housing associations to end homelessness.
But he added: “One of the most frustrating things is the finger pointing between local authorities and housing organisations over allocations, etc.”
He echoed Alafat’s calls for local leadership, adding: “The answer to homelessness is not going to be legislation but local leadership.”
Looking forward, Sparkes concluded: “In the race for numbers from government, we have to make sure there is social housing in there. We need to get social housing back on the agenda.
“Conversations with James Brokenshire or Amber Rudd shows there is a commitment to end homelessness in government.”
Sarah Jane Gay of the National Housing Federation was the final speaker on the panel and said one of the main priorities is to have “a welfare system that doesn’t put people into destitution”.
She added that there was “so much opportunity” for more partnerships within the sector and called on all associations to join Homes for Cathy, saying the Fed backed it 100%.
Starting with a personal story of her own experiences of homelessness, she ended with: “Sometimes I lose hope when I walk to work and see homeless people.
“But I remember that I work for the sector that can make a difference.”