Sign up to nine commitments to reduce homelessness

Welcome David BThe Homes for Cathy group is calling on housing associations to sign up to nine commitments that could make a “major impact” on homelessness, explains David Bogle, Chief Executive of Hightown Housing Association.

There is a homelessness crisis going on. At the last count there were almost 160,000 homeless households in Great Britain, including more than 9,000 people rough sleeping and 42,000 in emergency accommodation.

Housing associations must do more, much more to reduce these numbers – that is the central message of the Homes for Cathy group of housing associations.

That is why, working with housing charity Crisis, the Homes for Cathy group has come up with nine commitments which we are asking our members to achieve and which we believe could make a real major impact on homelessness. These are:

  1. To contribute to the development and execution of local authority homelessness strategies.
  2. To operate flexible allocations and eligibility polices which allow individual applicants’ unique sets of circumstances and housing histories to be considered.
  3. To offer constructive solutions to applicants who aren’t deemed eligible for an offer of a home.
  4. To not make homeless any tenant seeking to prevent their homelessness (as defined in the Crisis plan).
  5. To commit to meeting the needs of vulnerable tenant groups.
  6. To work in partnership to provide a range of affordable housing options which meet the needs of all homeless people in their local communities.
  7. To ensure that properties offered to homeless people are ready to move into.
  8. To contribute to ending migrant homelessness in the areas housing associations operate.
  9. To lobby, challenge and inspire others to support ending homelessness
    Many of these commitments are challenging.

Our hard-working housing management staff will be throwing their hands up at some of them.

We are calling them ‘aspirational’. We are suggesting that they be used as a tool to develop policies and practices. To deliver the nine commitments, most housing associations will need to find more resources. But housing associations have resources.

Although many housing associations have been providing excellent homes and services for homeless people for decades, it is plainly not enough. Yet the relief of homelessness has to be central to our social purpose. So can we accept an ongoing responsibility for the families whose tenancy has failed so as to ensure that they are not evicted into homelessness?

“The relief of homelessness has to be central to our social purpose.”

Can we provide furniture, curtains and carpets for those homeless people who we house who cannot provide them themselves?

Can we do more for those homeless people who we turn down because they don’t meet the qualifications for our homes?

Can we build or acquire more homes for homeless people?

Can we make a real impact on rough sleeping by working with local authorities to provide some homes for migrant workers even where they have no recourse to public funds?

For most housing associations, the answer to these questions must be “yes, we can” – if there is sufficient will and sufficient resources are allocated.We owe it to the tens of thousands of homeless families and rough sleepers to step up our efforts.These nine Homes for Cathy commitments are a starting point.

This blog was first published in Inside Housing, 10th July 2018

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