We have recently signed up to the National Housing Federation’s Commitment to Refer campaign highlighting the work of UK housing associations to tackle the issue of growing homelessness.
201 housing associations have pledged to tackle homelessness by signing the Commitment to Refer, an initiative launched by the National Housing Federation in October 2018.
Following the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act in October 2018, many housing associations expressed a strong desire to support the Act and work together with local authorities to tackle causes of homelessness in their community.
In response, the National Housing Federation 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 together to prevent it wherever possible.
Those that have signed up are choosing to join other public bodies who are bound by the Duty to Refer, a legal obligation to refer people who are already homeless and those at risk of losing their home to their local authority. This was introduced as part of the Homelessness Reduction Act in October 2018.
The National Housing Federation worked closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and housing association leaders to develop this pledge in support of the Homelessness Reduction Act.
Since 2010 rough sleeping has increased by 169%,(i) reflecting the extent to which urgent action is needed to tackle the rapidly increasing problem. The latest government stats show a 65% increase in the number of children in temporary accommodation.(ii)
Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation said: "In the last decade homelessness has increased on an unimaginable scale. 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 £1.2bn to do so, with £100m 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 National Housing Federation's Homelessness Steering Group said: "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."
You can see an interactive map of housing associations who have signed up here.