CIH and NHF highlight more support needed for rough sleepers as we emerge from COVID-19
Today, in a joint letter to Luke Hall MP, the minister for rough sleeping, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and National Housing Federation (NHF), have expressed concern about a serious obstacle in helping current and former rough sleepers to obtain longer-term housing and support. This occurs in cases where people are not entitled to housing and benefits and are therefore unable to pay for move-on accommodation.
The steps taken by the government to temporarily bring people sleeping rough in from the streets during the pandemic have been welcome but, as placements are coming to an end, there are increasing concerns about the availability of move-on options and how they will be financed.
Together with the NHF, CIH is calling on the government to restore access to housing and benefits on a permanent basis, regardless of immigration status, to build on the excellent work already been done to end rough sleeping during the pandemic. Ideally this would be permanent, but if not, there should be at least a temporary relaxation of restrictions.
Gavin Smart, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing said:
“The government has made huge strides in protecting rough sleepers and those vulnerable to homelessness during the pandemic. We know that having a settled place to call home has been fundamental to people coping and staying safe during the pandemic, providing much needed sanctuary and protection from an unpredictable virus.
It’s vital that we build on the progress we’ve made so far as we emerge from lockdown.”
Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said:
"The coronavirus crisis has reminded us all just how important a secure, stable home is. We should all be proud of the work done so far to put a roof over the heads of thousands of rough sleepers and other homeless people. But it is difficult to say that there will be no return to rough sleeping while so many are unable to access public support.
"We're urging ministers to lift these restrictions, at least for a year, so that we can build on their important work so far to support people experiencing homelessness during this pandemic. Social homes should be at the heart of the country's recovery from coronavirus, and this is a vital step that could help make life better for some of the most vulnerable people in our country."