Opinion | An open letter to the Housing Secretary

Dear Secretary of State of Housing, Communities and Local Government,

As CEO of homelessness charity Evolve Housing + Support I am delighted to see your government announce plans to make 3,300 new housing units available within 12 months.

As London Mayor Sadiq Khan said recently, “We could be the generation that ends rough sleeping; we think we are on the cusp of something amazing, but it could go either way.”

Having worked in this sector for thirty years, the possibility that we could be on the verge of ending a problem that has blighted so many lives is momentous.

Rough sleeping leads to chronic health problems, it shortens life expectancy to 47; 30 years less than someone with a roof over their head.

Your government says it has offered emergency accommodation in hotels to 90% of the nation’s rough sleepers.

You have shown it is possible to get rough sleepers off the streets in a crisis but rough sleeping is always a crisis.

Hundreds remain out there in London without shelter and many more are joining them as industries struggle with the economic impact of the pandemic.

You have said the government’s work on homelessness will not end once the pandemic is over and you have pledged to do “everything possible” to ensure rough sleepers do not return to the streets. You have said your ultimate ambition is to end rough sleeping for good.

I welcome this ambition, and I look forward to seeing how this will work. You have promised a cash injection to the sector of £160m within the next 12 months. I look forward to seeing the detail of your plans, including how the funds will be fast-tracked to local authorities and then to the housing associations that will do the vital work of building new homes for rough sleepers.

Now that we have shown rough sleepers can be given shelter in an emergency, let’s ensure they are not forgotten, and that we maintain this once-in-a-generation reduction in numbers on the streets.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Gray

Evolve Housing and Support CEO


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