Home for Good
From 2008 to 2018, a decade of spiralling housing costs, increasing insecurity for private renters and cuts to homelessness services had seen rough sleeping more than double. More people were returning to the streets after moving inside than ever before, and hundreds were dying while sleeping rough every year.
On World Homeless Day 2018 we launched our Home for Good campaign, calling on the Government to end rough sleeping for good by investing in homelessness services, improving private renting and increasing the number of social homes available to people who have slept rough.
During the campaign we saw the Government bring forward its target of ending rough sleeping from 2027 to 2024, make significant investment in homelessness services and promise to implement some of our proposed reforms to private renting.
Click on the recommendations below to learn more about what we called for and the changes we won to help people experiencing homelessness leave the streets behind for good.
Since 2008 nearly £1bn a year has been cut from what councils spend on homelessness services in England, leaving these specialist services unable to help everyone who needs them. We called on the Government to reverse these devastating cuts and invest an extra £1bn a year every year until 2024 in the Comprehensive Spending Review.
The three-year Comprehensive Spending Review that we expected in 2019 was postponed to 2020 due to Brexit, before being postponed again due to Coronavirus. That means we’re still waiting for Government to provide homelessness services with the long-term funding certainty that they need.
However, thanks to the tireless efforts of St Mungo’s campaigners who signed petitions and open letters, wrote to the Prime Minister, tweeted the Chancellor and lobbied their MPs for two years, we won significant new investment in preventing homelessness and ending rough sleeping – with £700m spent by the Government in 2020-21 and a similar amount committed for 2021-22.
Improve the private rented sector to better suit the needs of people with a history of rough sleeping.
To make the private rented sector a more affordable and stable home for those leaving rough sleeping behind, we called for:
- Legislation requiring open-ended tenancies, limiting rent increases and putting an end to “no fault” evictions (where landlords may evict tenants at short notice and for no specified reason);
- Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to be raised so that Housing Benefit could cover the rent of at least 30% of properties in the local area; and
- Support for landlords to let to people with a history of rough sleeping.
In April 2019 the Government promised to abolish ‘no fault’ evictions – a huge step towards helping people find a stable home in the private rented sector. However, we’re still waiting to see the Government’s proposed Renters Reform Bill for detail on what the new regime will be.
In March 2020, the Chancellor raised LHA rates to cover the rent of 30% of properties in each local area, dramatically increasing the number of properties available to those claiming Housing Benefit after a decade of cuts and rate freezes.
But at the 2020 Spending Review the Government said that LHA rates will not continue to increase in line with local rents next year, so we will continue to make the case for ensuring private renting is more affordable to those experiencing homelessness.
To help more people find a home in social housing (which is more stable and affordable than private renting), we joined forces with other homelessness charities and called for the Government to:
- increase investment to build 90,000 homes for social rent every year for 15 years;
- reserve some social housing for people with a history of rough sleeping and make these homes available through programmes like Housing First; and
- stop excluding people who have experienced homelessness from social housing.
Our report Home for Good: The role of social housing in ending rough sleeping looks in detail at the difficulties our clients face in accessing this crucial route away from the streets. Since our campaign started the Government has reviewed the policies that determine how social housing is allocated and promised to consider how to remove barriers for homeless households.
There’s still so much more to do to tackle the housing crisis and ensure that everyone who’s slept rough can access the right kind of home to support their recovery, and we will continue to work with others in the sector to achieve this.
To find out how you can join us in campaigning for an end to homelessness, sign up to become a campaigner today. Or scroll down to read stories from our clients who’ve supported this campaign.
“I’ve got no one I can say is ‘family’ family but I’m okay. I have my partner, and I’ve got a good support worker – that’s all I need.”
After leaving home and sleeping rough for 18 years, Tracy spent time in supported housing and now lives in her own flat with help from a floating support worker. She has worked as a support worker herself and seen the damage that funding cuts can do.
“My first six months after I left my home and family is a blur. I moved in with a man who got me hooked on heroin, and had to leave his flat after he went to prison for drug dealing. I became homeless, living in people’s sheds, on the streets, and eventually under a bridge for 8 years.
An outreach worker persuaded me to come into a hostel, and I turned my life around. I stopped using drugs, started an apprenticeship and later became a support worker myself. But I left that job when I saw that all the funding was being cut – I didn’t want to have to always say ‘no’ to my clients.
My own support worker at St Mungo’s is amazing and I can’t imagine my life without her. I can be completely honest with her and I know that she’ll help me. She’s supported me when I’ve been depressed, helped me to get payment plans in place when I’ve been in debt, got me everything I needed when I lost my job after coronavirus hit.
Everybody’s recovery path is different – you can’t put a schedule on it. My journey has been up and down, not all plain sailing. It’s only with support from Christina that I’ve been able to keep this flat I’m in.”
"Without Paulina, I'd still be on the streets."
“I became homeless because I couldn’t make the rent for my flat, despite working as a labourer. After sofa surfing for a while, I lived in the woods on and off for around two years.”
Jan began visiting a day centre in Brighton, to get meals and clothing. It was there he met Paulina, who would become his key worker.
“Having Paulina as my keyworker changed everything. For the first time, I feel like someone’s supporting me.
She supporting me to find work and sort my finances. I didn’t realise when I was sleeping rough that I had depression. It was Paulina who pushed me to go to the doctors, I would never have gone without her and I’m now getting treatment.
She makes me want to put the effort in, because she’s working so hard as well.
Everyone deserves the chance I’ve had to turn things around for themselves.”
"The support St Mungo's has given me has been crucial."
Jennifer struggled to find support after she was evicted from her property in South London and became homeless.
"I didn't know what to do, how to get started. I knew there must be something, but I didn't know what.
Finally I found Streetlink, who told me they could help but it would take 48 hours. For that time, I just walked round London and kept myself busy. I refused to lie down."
Through Streetlink Jennifer got into emergency accommodation and then into a community where she worked and lived for three years. Finally she was referred to St Mungo's for a social home through the Clearing House scheme for people with experience of sleeping rough.
“It's only now being with St Mungo's that I'm able to settle properly. I got offered a clean slate, and it's been nothing but positive. The support St Mungo's has given me has been crucial.
Having my keyworker, it's so important - I know she genuinely cares. She always offers her help and we work together on my future. I can catch up with her whenever, and bit by bit, I've been getting stronger and more confident."
“I know I can speak to anyone here and they’ll help me.”
Charlotte is a client of a St Mungo’s hostel in London, and has been there for two years.
“I was living with my family but everything wasn’t going great so I moved out. I got an assessment and not long after that – I was able to move in here.”
Charlotte has regular support of two keyworkers, but also has support from all the project staff.
“Being here, it’s good because it’s so easy to talk to everyone. I can get things off my chest, and I can talk in private when I need.
I have a weekly catch up with one of my key workers, where we talk about everything like my finances and my job. But if they’re away, I know I can speak to anyone here and they’ll help. They all should get awards!
I’ve got a support network now with new friends and I’m trying to stop drinking, which I get support for.
When I was living with my family, everything was unstable but now, it’s all changed. My relationship with my family is better now, because I live here. It feels like home.”
"A lot of people need ongoing support, I needed ongoing support."
For years, Kevin didn't have a stable home - staying with partners or friends and eventually sleeping rough.
After some time in hostels, he moved into a private flat but without the right support - he lost his tenancy.
"Housing people alone doesn't solve the problem - it's everything that goes with it. With people who are street homeless, it's not as easy as just giving them a roof over their head.
Moving on, in to your own place, is the scariest time for anyone. A lot of people need ongoing support; I needed ongoing support."
Kevin now works in a community centre, working with people experiencing homelessness every day.
"I work with people who are or have been homeless and I know there is capacity in everyone to turn their lives around. But the right support just isn't in place for everyone. I truly believe I am one of the lucky ones."