Access to housing is a fundamental part of solving homelessness. An inability to access affordable and suitable housing causes homelessness as well as sustaining it.
The upfront cost of private rented properties is a major barrier for homeless people. Many landlords are also unwilling to let their properties to recipients of Housing Benefit or homeless people (Home: No less will do, 2016). Social housing is currently under strain due to a lack of new properties and increased demand. Solving housing issues is at the core of tackling homelessness.
33% of landlords would ask for guarantors for homeless people (source: Home: No less will do, 2016)
The private rented sector has rapidly expanded across the UK (The Homelessness Monitor).
There has been a sharp increase in the number of people presenting as homeless to local authorities at the end of their private tenancies in England. At the same time, the private rented sector is increasingly used to house people experiencing homelessness.
Access to the private rented sector can be difficult. 80% of landlords are unwilling to rent to homeless people as they see benefit claimants and the homeless as risky tenants. Help to Rent schemes are a way of encouraging landlords to let to homeless people but take up of these schemes are still low despite their success (Home: No less will do, 2016).
There are also issues with the conditions of properties in the private rented sector, especially at the low end of the housing market. In a longitudinal study of homeless people being resettled into private rented housing poor conditions were extremely common and had an impact on people’s health and well-being (A roof over my head, 2014)
In some parts of the country, Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates do not match the cost of rent making it difficult for those on housing benefit to find affordable accommodation. (No room available, 2012)
Housing First is a treatment-first approach that moves people directly into their own properties with support. There is an extensive international evidence base on Housing First which demonstrates its effectiveness (Housing First literature review, 2015).
Housing First was initially developed in the US and has subsequently been adopted in Canada, Austria, Japan, Finland, the Netherlands and Ireland.
Although there are some examples of the approach being used in the UK, it still has not adopted as a form of state support but is currently being piloted across the UK (Staircases, Elevators and Cycles of Change, 2010).
Supported housing is accommodation for people who need support with everyday tasks to help them live in their own home. For homeless people, this might mean a hostel or other short-term shared housing. People who have multiple or complex needs it might mean longer-term housing.
It is a step towards independent living.
Funding for supported housing predominantly comes from the government. There have been big reductions in funding for hostels for single homeless people in recent years. In England, the government is now planning to change the way supported housing is funded after an extensive review (Supported accommodation review, 2016)
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This plan outlines the evidence-based solutions that can end homelessness in Great Britain, built round the belief that everyone should have – and is ready for – a safe, stable place to live.