06 December 2016
In 1991 the Rough Sleepers Initiative (RSI), established by central government, set the objective of making it “unnecessary for anybody to sleep rough on the streets of London”.
One of its legacies was the Clearing House, a project managed by St Mungo’s on behalf of the Greater London Authority which allocates properties generously provided by Housing Associations throughout London to people formerly rough sleeping on the capital’s streets.
Today, those involved in Clearing House gathered at City Hall to mark its 25 years and the 13,500 tenancies which Clearing House has supported during the last quarter century. An impact report noted that:
• As a result of the combined effort of over 40 housing associations, there are more than 3,750 flats across London ring-fenced for rough sleepers.
• Based on average data, Clearing House tenants spent more than 110,000 nights on the streets of London before moving into a property provided by the Registered Social Landlords.
• Once housed, 92% never returned to rough sleeping. This includes almost 300 clients considered among the most long term rough sleepers in the capital.
"I would probably be dead without Clearing House. It gave me security; it put me back in society; it helped me in so many ways. […] Without the programme, with no exaggeration at all, I’d probably be dead. My mental health was ridiculous; I was self-harming; I was an addict. It saved my life." Gary
In 2000, coordinated support from Tenancy Sustainment Teams (TSTs) was introduced to all new tenants and those already in tenancies who required support. Since then, the teams have supported more than 7,500 tenants, around financial independence, living skills and access to training and work opportunities.
James Murray, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, said: “The housing crisis is the single biggest barrier to prosperity, growth, and fairness facing Londoners today. For no one is this truer than those who end up sleeping rough on the streets of our capital – with devastating impacts on their lives and on our communities.
“At City Hall we are committed to tackling the scourge of rough sleeping, and we have already set about making a difference through our new No Nights Sleeping Rough taskforce.
Our work must build on longstanding successful initiatives such as Clearing House. Together we can support and expand on the vital work that has already been done, and ensure that we live in a city that offers opportunity to all Londoners.”
David Montague, Chief Executive of L&Q and Chair of the G15, the group of London’s largest housing associations, said: “As the number of people sleeping rough in London continues to increase, and the economic climate remains challenging, having a pool of social housing reserved for those who are or have been street homeless remains a critical need.
“It has been a privilege to provide housing for this critical service for the last quarter century – and to be looking ahead together to continue to transform more lives.”
Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said: “We’re proud to be part of this truly transformative partnership which has enabled more than 13,500 people to have a place to call home and rebuild their lives over the last 25 years.
“Our Nowhere safe to stay research has exposed the extreme dangers of sleeping rough, including violence, abuse and suicide The testimony of tenants is proof of how Clearing House has changed and indeed, saved, lives."