Since 2010, the number of people sleeping on the streets has increased by 141%. Early into 2020, those working to tackle this ever-accelerating crisis, foresaw the disaster that could unfold if rough sleepers were not safely housed when COVID-19 hit the UK.
The Everyone In scheme
In March, the Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrick announced £3.2 million of funding for councils to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers. The government’s Everyone In scheme saw MHCLG, local authorities and charities unite and take decisive action. In the weeks and months that followed, nearly 15,000 homeless people in England were placed in emergency accommodation including hotels, B&Bs and student halls. For the first time, many homeless individuals were accommodated regardless of their “local connection” or their “recourse to public funds”, factors that were previously barriers to obtaining temporary accommodation by local authorities.
A new wave of homelessness?
However, despite the unprecedented achievement of the Everyone In scheme, we are now in a second lockdown and there are growing concerns about a new wave of homelessness. The stagnation and collapse of the economy is leaving many jobless, with those from migrant backgrounds and people with ill mental health especially vulnerable.
People from all pillars of society are calling for a revive of the Everyone In scheme to ensure that the situation is not allowed to slip out of control. However, the inconvenient and sad truth is that even if the scheme is renewed, it is not enough. Emergency accommodation will not provide a sustainable solution to those in need of safe, affordable permanent housing.
The concerning longer-term problem
At the end of October, Robert Jenrick announced that 3,300 new long-term homes for rough sleepers and other vulnerable people will be available by the end of March 2021. However, a recent report by People in Housing Need and National Housing Federation shows that 1.6 million households are in need of social housing, and this figure has not accounted for the many who will lose their jobs and become homeless due to the virus. Clearly, the housing crisis is nowhere near being resolved and has been cruelly exacerbated by Covid-19.
Move on scheme supporting social landlords
Whilst there is no magic bullet, there are passionate and determined people working tirelessly to ease the problem and help where they can. National move-on scheme, Homefinder UK is run by such people. Run by landlords, for landlords and with the technology expertise of its parent company Home Connections, this project has been operating for seven years, independent of political agendas and delivered on a not-for-profit basis.
Uniquely, the scheme offers highly specialised and dedicated case managers to support housing applicants in finding a suitable home outside of their borough. Temporary accommodation, domestic abuse, gang violence and homelessness are just some of the realities that Homefinder UK has helped people escape from. To date, Homefinder UK is proud to have helped over 700 households into permanent social housing, with 200 of these success stories having been achieved during the Covid-19 crisis.
Homefinder UK provides local authorities with another option to expensive temporary accommodation. Lewisham Council has so far achieved nearly 100 moves and saved around £800,000 on temporary accommodation through Homefinder UK. Jemima Harrison, the Housing Solutions Team Leader said: “The Homefinder UK Team has been fantastic, and all the hard work is worth it when we can join forces and help our applicants and tenants.”
These are the words of a recent woman who had been in temporary accommodation for the last seven years. “I finally found my forever home through Homefinder UK. I completed my starter tenancy and have now been offered a lifelong tenancy. The security my family now has is amazing. The council had been about to discharge us into the private rental sector so finding a social home through Homefinder UK has truly been a lifeline.”
Our research shows that, on average, local authorities save over £250,000 per annum in TA costs from using our move-on services. Whether you are a local authority or a housing association striving to provide the best service for your customers, Homefinder UK can ease your waiting lists for social housing and provide the support applicants need. Contact [email protected] to find out how we can help you.