The Labour Party has doubled its target for the number of vacant housing association homes it plans to buy for rough sleepers to 8,000.
Speaking over the weekend, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, told the BBC its plan to tackle rough sleeping involved “immediately purchasing 8,000 properties across the country to give emergency housing to those people who are currently homeless”.
A party source confirmed this represents a doubling of the policy announced last year to strike a deal with the housing association sector to buy up 4,000 homes for a ‘Clearing House’ scheme for homeless people.
It is understood the expansion to 8,000 homes means the policy would now incorporate both move-on accommodation for former rough sleepers leaving hostels and Housing First schemes.
This would be achieved through a voluntary deal with the housing association sector, echoing the Conservative Party’s deal in October 2015 which saw the sector sign up in principle to the Right to Buy extension.
When the policy was announced last year, Labour said state funding would be provided for replacements of the housing association homes, with the properties used to set up Clearing House schemes in Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester, as well as London.
The party said then that the scheme had been costed and would represent a “fraction” of the overall housing budget, and had been discussed with key housing bodies including the National Housing Federation.
Inside Housing’s Cathy at 50 campaign calls on the government to end rough sleeping and halve it by 2020, and to adopt a Housing First model – where permanent housing backed up by tailored support is provided to rough sleepers. The model has had considerable success in countries such as Finland.
The latest government statistics, released last week, show rough sleeping has soared 15% in just one year with the number of people sleeping on the streets more than doubling since 2010.
There were 4,751 people sleeping rough on one night in autumn 2017 – a single-night snapshot the government uses to count the number of rough sleepers. This was 617 more people than at the same point in 2016. This is the seventh year running in which the number of rough sleepers has risen.
Update, at 12pm on 29.01.2018
This story was updated to correct a typo, ’move-one’ was replaced with ’move-on’