Ending rough sleeping in H&F – experts put forward their plans

Homelessness and housing experts have published ground-breaking plans to put an end to rough sleeping in H&F.

The independent Hammersmith & Fulham Rough Sleeping Commission was launched in February last year after being commissioned by H&F Council.

Now, after extensive research, including interviewing 108 rough sleepers, the commissioners have produced a raft of recommendations. They include expanding on H&F’s pilot Housing First scheme where rough sleepers are housed first and are then supported to stay there and rebuild their lives.

“The commission was tasked with the ambitious, but realisable, goal of reducing the number of people sleeping rough in the borough to zero,” said the commission’s Chair Jon Sparkes, who is chief executive of national homelessness charity, Crisis.

“Grounded in the experience of rough sleepers and people who deliver services in H&F, I am confident that these recommendations will help the borough achieve their goal and act as a model for other local authorities and the Greater London Authority,” he added.

Jon was joined on the commission by Michael Angus, director of the Barons Court Project; Michael Buraimoh, operations director of the Upper Room; Steven Platts, senior project manager at Glass Door; Thomas Neumark, chief executive of the Peel Institute; and Paul Doe, chief executive of Shepherds Bush Housing Group.

Among the difficulties, they highlighted government cuts and delays to benefits, as well as to support such as debt advice and alcohol services.

The commission was particularly critical of the implementation of Universal Credit. They described the six-week assessment period and delays in the housing element of Universal Credit as having ‘serious consequences’ and a ‘trigger factor’ causing rough sleeping.

“This report is hugely insightful and has the potential to make a real difference,” said Cllr Sue Fennimore, Deputy Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

“I’m very grateful to the commissioners and everyone who contributed, particularly the rough sleepers who gave their personal accounts of what life is like without a roof above your head.”

Frontline workers said services in H&F were very good compared to other boroughs.

The commissioners made separate recommendations for H&F Council, the Greater London Authority and the Government. They focused on four key areas:

•    Improving prevention work
•    Emergency response
•    Housing led approaches
•    Access to secure and affordable housing.

You can find the full report online.

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