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Homelessness Prevention

We should all have a safe, decent home and it’s unacceptable that this isn't the case for some of us in our society. If the right kind of support were in place, then many could be prevented from being forced into homelessness in the first place.

What does preventing homelessness mean?

We should all have a safe, decent home and it’s unacceptable that this isn't the case for some of us in our society.

Often, emphasis is placed on emergency services that meet the immediate needs of a person experiencing homelessness such as temporary shelter, food and washing facilities. While this will always be important to those of us in crisis, by placing more resource into preventing homelessness people will be able to harm this can cause.

Preventing homelessness can be done in many ways.  Broad-scale solutions include investment in more social housing meaning more affordable housing options for all. There are also more individualised methods of preventing homelessness too, for example, ensuring young people leaving care are supported into a stable home.

Homelessness hurts us all so preventing it really is in all our best interests.

Ways to prevent homelessness

Currently local councils have a ‘legal duty’ to prevent homelessness for anyone facing it in their area. This provides a much-needed protection for people from experiencing some of the worst forms of homelessness. This protection is not consistent though – it is only offered at the point of crisis and to those who are deemed to be a ‘priority’. And councils only have limited resources to help people in this way.

There are ways to prevent homelessness much earlier on that would provide better protection for us all. Policymakers need to invest in our social housing across the country to ensure there is enough genuinely affordable housing available to people. This would mean more stable homes for people with the lowest incomes who are at greatest risk of homelessness.

Whilst housing benefit has been increased in 2024 to cover the cost of the cheapest rents in different areas, this is the first time in three years that it has been uprated. The three-year freeze before this put incredible financial pressure on so many of us. We therefore need to see this uplift in the longer term so that it truly covers the cost of rent otherwise we risk people having to make up the shortfall between the two, increasing financial pressure of individuals once again and pushing them closer towards homelessness.

Alongside these early prevention methods, there are also other ways we could change the current system to better fit people's needs and prevent homelessness. These include better support when people are leaving institutions like care, family mediation to prevent youth homelessness and enhanced housing advice.

There are also ways we can embed homelessness prevention in our local communities and some great examples of where this has been done on a local level to stop it before it happens. This includes GPs receiving training to identify patients who may be at risk of homelessness and giving them an understanding of where to refer these patients for help. Similar roles have been taken on by some police forces, food banks and faith groups - all key pillars of our communities that could be a key part in helping prevent any of us from facing homelessness.

You can read more about the different ways to prevent homelessness in our guide.

Homelessness prevention strategy

A homelessness prevention strategy is a plan outlining steps that will be taken to prevent homelessness before it happens.

Some local councils have developed their own homelessness prevention strategy to address homelessness in their local area, but currently across the UK there isn’t a homelessness prevention strategy to tackle it at a national level.

Our comprehensive plan to end homelessness from 2018 includes homelessness prevention and what needs to change at all levels to help end homelessness across the country for good. Key actions that we identified that would have the biggest impact include better investment in support like family mediation and services to help people sustain their tenancy.

You can read more on what needs to be in a homelessness prevention strategy in our plan to end homelessness

How can I help prevent homelessness?

We all have our role to take in ending homelessness and there is action each of us can take to help prevent homelessness in our country and communities. This would mean a better society for us all.

Changing our current homelessness system is the best way that we can prevent it – this means calling on policy makers to make the changes needed to do this. By supporting Crisis’ campaigns, you can add you voice to those calling for action to end homelessness and ensure the government has to take notice.

Campaign with us

In the shorter term, Crisis is here for anyone at risk or experiencing homelessness. Crisis’ vital services across the country help people through support with housing, employment and healthcare. By choosing to donate, fundraise, shopping in your local Crisis shop or volunteering your time, you can help end homelessness for good.

Find out how to get involved