More and more people are experiencing the sharpest end of our housing crisis. An alarming 277,000 people are now homeless in England, most commonly because they’ve lost their private rented accommodation. Employment provides neither protection from becoming homeless nor a route out. More than half (55%) of homeless households are in work. The next 20 years, will see hundreds of thousands more people being forced into homelessness by insecure tenancies and sky-high housing costs.

It’s great that the Government is committed to halving rough sleeping by 2022 and ending it by 2027. In their Rough Sleeping Strategy, Minister James Brokenshire describes rough sleeping as a complex issue. He initially said that austerity was not a major contributor, although he now seems to be more reflective on why the numbers involved doubled between 2010 and 2018.

It may sound simple - Homeless people need homes, but making that happen is not as easy as we may think.  Building more social housing is the only way we can end our national housing emergency.  But, there aren’t enough. There are 1.2m households currently on the waiting list, including over quarter of a million living in unsanitary or overcrowded conditions, and over 144,000 who are homeless. Last year only 177,166 households moved into social housing, of whom 30% had been homeless.

At last it seems that the public want change. Shelter the national Housing charity had over 31,000 people involved in their “Big Conversation” about social housing. They concluded that; for too long, we haven’t invested in social housing, and the social housing we do have is seen as nothing more than a safety net for when things go wrong. This isn’t the vision that Harold Macmillan or Nye Bevan set out. It doesn’t reflect the growing numbers of people who need social housing.  

At HOPE, we endorse their recommendation that as a country, we need to build 3.1 million new social homes over the next 20 years; an average of around 150,000 a year.  But, we recognise that this can’t happen overnight, although, with the will, it can be done – in the mid-1960s, 150,000 social homes were completed in a single year. So, it is achievable - if the will is there from government.

We are trying to do our bit, in the last 2 years we have increased our capacity by refurbishing a shared house in Queen Street, Worksop.  We have recently relocated our headquarters and are currently renovating that property into 8 more self-contained flats.  It is but a small step on the long and winding journey, but one we believe can help to restore the balance that a caring society must offer to those who need a helping hand….