02 May 2023
3,000 people sleeping rough - up by 26 per cent in a year - and over 250,000 people in temporary accommodation (including over 120,000 children) in England today.
We know the statistics – but what are we doing about it?
At Homes for Cathy we think that tackling homelessness should be the number one priority for housing associations.
Our nine Homes for Cathy commitments serve as a 'call to arms' for the sector and a tool against which boards can measure their association's work on ending homelessness.
In the face of negative press and media publicity, the commitments are a way that the sector can demonstrate its vision, its values, its culture and its long-term social purpose – to help recapture the moral high ground.
Of course, we are all currently pre-occupied with damp and mould issues, fire and building safety, zero carbon and the requirements of the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill. We have experienced rapid cost increases and sharply rising interest rates coupled with a below-inflation rent settlement. Many housing associations are going to be reducing their development programmes at a time when the need for social housing is most acute.
But, with a general election in the next 12-18 months and in the face of government that does not seem particularly interested in homelessness issues, we need to force homelessness issues up the political agenda otherwise the homelessness numbers will get even worse.
The increased focus on our responsibilities to our tenants as a landlord is very important but we must not lose sight of our duty to those who do not yet have a home, who can't afford to buy or rent at market prices and who need a secure, long term tenancy.
How do we get the Treasury to come up with the £9 billion a year we need to provide 90,000 homes for social rent annually? How do we get a Government with a long term commitment and plan to end homelessness? How do we engage the public/voters in the need to prioritise spending on social/affordable housing?
Nine years ago, the NHF ran a Homes for Britain campaign before the 2015 election which culminated in a rally in Parliament Square and speeches in a nearby conference centre. It was very well supported by the housing sector. I cycled there with my Chair from Hemel Hempstead.
Maybe it is time for another campaign and another rally but this time with a 'housing for homeless people' theme?
If you’re a CIH member, you can book your FREE EXCLUSIVE place at the Northern Housing Festival now. Our session on tackling homelessness will take place 12:35 - 13:30 on Wednesday 10 May 2023.
If you’re not a member, it's time to join us! In most cases standard annual membership is cheaper than previous delegate rates, and rather than attend just the Housing Brighton, you'll have access to a wealth of CIH events* and a whole host of member benefits. Find out more today!
David Bogle is chair of Homes for Cathy.