SO far 201 housing associations have backed a National Housing Federation (NHF) initiative to support local authorities to tackle homelessness.
The Homelessness Reduction Act came into effect in October, placing a legal obligation on public bodies to refer homeless people – or those at risk of losing their home – to the local authority.
This Duty to Refer doesn’t apply to housing associations, but the NHF said that many of its members expressed a “strong desire” to support the Act and work with councils to tackle the causes of homelessness in the areas where they work.
In response, the NHF launched a Commitment to Refer so the sector could pledge to collaborate with local authorities by notifying them of anyone at risk of homelessness and working with them to prevent it wherever possible. In effect, they are voluntarily signing up to the duty borne by public bodies.
“In the last decade homelessness has increased on an unimaginable scale,” said Kate Henderson, the NHF’s chief executive. “Housing associations already do brilliant work every day to stop people becoming homeless and to provide shelter to people who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets.
“It’s really positive to now see hundreds of organisations across the country publically committing to go above and beyond to tackle this growing problem. This shows a significant appetite within the sector to tackling homelessness and we hope to see every housing association sign up in 2019.”
Heather Wheeler MP, minister for housing and homelessness, said “This Government is committed to tackling homelessness and is investing £1.2 billion to do so, with £100 million to help those sleeping rough.
“It’s great to the see the National Housing Federation’s bringing forward the Commitment to Refer and that over 200 housing associations have signed up to its pledge. This initiative demonstrates a real commitment to work with local authorities to play an active role in tackling homelessness.
“With more housing associations getting on board more vulnerable people will get the help they need.”
John Glenton, chair of the NHF’s Homelessness Steering Group, added: “The Homelessness Steering Group is committed to increasing housing associations’ impact in preventing and tackling homelessness. Therefore, I am so pleased at the number of housing associations who have signed up to the commitment to refer, however we still have some way to go.
“This commitment is simple and straightforward to administer, but I know this is already making a difference to a number of individuals and families who are at risk of becoming homeless. Details of what this means in practice can be found on the National Housing Federation’s website.”