Kevin on his sofa with the Home for Good campaign logo

We can end rough sleeping

By 2010, 20 years of government action meant the end of rough sleeping was in sight. But since then spiralling housing costs, increasing insecurity for private renters and cuts to services that prevent homelessness have seen rough sleeping more than double.

More people are returning to the streets

Rough sleeping is the most damaging form of homelessness. The average age of death for a man who dies whilst sleeping rough or in homelessness services is only 45. For women it’s 43. And the longer someone spends on the streets the harder it is to come back from.

It doesn't have to be this way

The Government has pledged to end rough sleeping by 2024 and set out a plan to get there. But it doesn't go far enough. 

Government action can stop people returning to the streets permanently by:

  • building more social homes and making them available to people who have slept rough;
  • improving private renting; and
  • guaranteeing long-term funding for homelessness services.

Reverse the £1bn a year funding cut

Last year we launched new research showing that nine years of Government cuts have left services for single homeless people with a shocking £1bn a year funding gap.

These punishing cuts to council budgets have left thousands of vulnerable people at risk, with the number of people sleeping rough rising by a massive 165% since 2010.

Rough sleeping is not inevitable. With the right support everyone can find and keep a home.

But we can't end rough sleeping without sustainable funding for services like homeless hostels and Housing First, which provides specialist support to help people cope with mental health and substance use problems and keep their homes.

The Government must act. And the 2020 spending review is the perfect opportunity.

We'll be keeping up the pressure to make sure that homelessness services get the funding they need. Sign up to find out how you can help.

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Kevin's story

Kevin struggled with mental health and substance use issues following the death of his mum when he was 12. For years he 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 quickly lost his tenancy. It took years for him to stabilise again and get into a new place that he considers home - this time, in a social home where he has the security of a lifetime tenancy.

Now Kevin runs an inclusive community centre, working with people experiencing homelessness every day.

"They need to realise that when you're housing people, that doesn't just solve the problem - it's everything else that goes with it. The whole package. With people who are street homeless, it's not as easy as just giving them a roof over their head.

Moving on, into your own place, is the scariest time for anyone. A lot of people need ongoing support; I needed ongoing support."

Kevin is championing the Home for Good campaign and wrote to the Secretary of State for Housing, James Brokenshire, calling for change. Over 21,300 people signed his letter and he handed it on to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on 7 February

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What we're calling for

Our Home for Good campaign report explains the difficulties people face when leaving the streets behind and what the Government must do to end rough sleeping for good.

To learn more about what we're calling for, click on the recommendations below:

To get everybody into a home for good, the government must:

  • 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 housing-led programmes, including Housing First.
  • Stop excluding people who have experienced homelessness from social housing.

For more information see our Home for Good campaign report.

To get everybody into a home for good, the government must:

  • Re-align Local Housing Allowance rates to ensure that Housing Benefit covers the rent of at least 30% of properties in the local area.
  • Legislate to make private renting more stable by requiring open-ended tenancies, limiting rent increases and ending 'no fault' evictions.
  • Support landlords to let to people with a history of rough sleeping.

For more information see our Home for Good campaign report.

To get everybody into a home for good, the government must use the 2019 Spending Review to provide long-term investment in homelessness services, ensuring a tailored package of support is available to everyone who has slept rough.

For more information  see our Home for Good campaign report.

To find out how these issues affect people's lives, read Paul, Hayley and Dave's stories below.

Paul on his sofa

Paul's story:

The benefits of social housing

Paul experienced violence at home, and started taking drugs after leaving school. With addiction making it hard to hold down a job and a flat, he spent long periods sofa surfing and rough sleeping.

Rough sleeping and drug addiction took a serious toll on Paul's health.

"I caught pneumonia because I was out in the rain for three days. Then they found a pulmonary embolism on my lungs.

I got to the age of 44 and I'd had enough. I was also looking at a lengthy jail sentence. I thought, you know what, I've had enough of this. And then I got into recovery. I'm nearly ten years clean."

Paul managed to get a council flat four and a half years ago. Having a secure home has helped him to focus on completing an apprenticeship in the St Mungo's Housing First team in Brighton, where he helps others move on from rough sleeping.

"I've got a secure tenancy, which means as long as I look after the flat and pay rent, it's mine for as long as I want it. It's well decorated, I've got loads of clobber in there - you walk into it and it feels like a home.

Now people say to me in the street, 'Paul you've done really well, I wish I had what you've got', I say 'you have, you just don't know it. I can show you how to do it!'"

To find out more about how social housing can help to end rough sleeping, read our campaign report.

Hayley in her armchair

Hayley's story:

The problems with private renting

Hayley lived in social housing from age 16, first in a flat for 3 years and then in a house for 10 years.

"I got my first permanent home, social home, in 2004. I was lucky. It was a nice two-bedroom maisonette. I sustained that tenancy for 10 years."

Things fell apart when her dad died and she couldn't cope. She fell behind on her rent and was evicted.

"More communication and compassion would have helped me when I was in rent arrears. My dad had just passed, I couldn’t think about it. It pushed me towards drugs. There needs to be more compassion with people that are struggling."

Hayley wound up sofa surfing while suffering with depression, then got a place in a St Mungo's women's hostel. Now she's living in supported housing with low-level floating support, but is looking for a private rented flat outside London.

“I’ve been searching for a private rented place for ages. I can’t get social housing again because of my rent arrears. I want to stay close to my daughter, but some of the flats I’ve seen are so tiny, you could just about fit a single bed. It’s really hard to afford a private rented sector place. To pay the rent and support yourself, it’s rough. I don’t know how people do it.

"The private rented sector is never ever permanent. It’s always temporary, and that’s what I’m worried about. I could move in there and then they could say someone’s buying the property and I have to go. Then you start looking for another place and you struggle again and before you know it you’re homeless again. It’s really bad."

To find out more about how we can make private renting more stable and affordable, read our campaign report.

Dave standing in his home

Dave's story:

Getting the right support

Dave spent his childhood living in children’s homes and foster care in Camden. After his foster brother died in 1993 he ended up sleeping rough in the West End. After that, Dave spent several years sleeping rough, as well as spending time in prison and in and out of hostels.

“It was chaotic. It wasn’t a nice place to be. My mental health wasn’t good. It was making me more angry, I was going nowhere, going absolutely nowhere.”

Eventually Dave was helped by the Camden Housing First team, who found Dave his own flat and are on hand to provide support, including helping him to reconnect with his son.

“In the last six years St Mungo’s have always been there for me. Helped with whatever I needed. When I started displaying my alcohol and drug problems they didn’t say ‘well let’s get rid of him’, they tried to help me.” 

And thanks to Housing First, Dave has a place to call home.

“At least now it’s mine. I’ve got a door and keys to my own place and I know that I’m going to look after it."

To find out more about why people need the right support to stay in their homes and how we can make sure they get it, read the campaign report.