Leader of the council: ‘More social housing will reduce rough sleeping’

PUBLISHED: 18:57 13 August 2018 | UPDATED: 19:04 13 August 2018

Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council and executive member for housing and planning for London Councils. Picture: LBBD

Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council and executive member for housing and planning for London Councils. Picture: LBBD

Andreas Grieger PHOTOGRAPHER

Darren Rodwell, the leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, has voiced his support for the government’s rough sleeping strategy published today.

The strategy ambitiously pledges to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eradicate it by 2027.

Councillor Rodwell, speaking on behalf of London Councils, said increasing social housing was the key to reducing rough sleeping.

He said: “Rough sleeping is the most visible symptom of London’s growing homelessness crisis – no-one walking around the capital can fail to notice the large number of rough sleepers.

“Reducing homelessness in London requires a massive increase in social housing provision, which is why the government must empower boroughs to build more council houses as a matter of priority. This would be a major boost to tackling homelessness in London.”

Councillor Rodwell is the executive member of housing and planning for London Councils, a cross-party organisation which represents London’s 32 boroughs.

He said the organisation supports the government’s plan, but it’s up to London’s boroughs to ensure the strategy is carried out.

He said: “We fully support the aim of ending rough sleeping entirely, and boroughs have a key role to play in making this ambition a reality.

“London accounts for a huge percentage of the total number of homeless households in England and there are unique pressures facing the capital that must be addressed – principally the chronic shortage of affordable housing.”

In terms of housing, the strategy pledges to spend £50 million on building homes outside of London for those sleeping rough.

The report states: “Rough sleeping is the most extreme form of homelessness and it is therefore right we take action to help people off the streets now.

“Ending rough sleeping starts with secure and affordable housing. Successive governments have not built enough homes and the result is a broken housing market.”

The strategy centres on a three pronged approach to tackling rough sleeping – prevention, intervention and recovery.

Prevention includes £3.2 million a year for two years to help people leaving prison find stable accommodation.

Intervention focuses on those already in crisis – rough sleeping navigators will be specialists brought in to help homeless people get support, and up to £2m will be spent on health services for rough sleepers.

The recovery aspect will include homelessness experts in every Jobcentre Plus, and a Young Futures Fund to support those not in education, employment or training.

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