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Tories vow to eliminate rough sleeping and pilot Housing First

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The Conservatives have pledged to pilot Housing First and eliminate rough sleeping by 2027, in a major win for Inside Housing’s Cathy at 50 campaign.

The party’s election manifesto, released this morning, committed to “continue to combat homelessness and rough sleeping” in the next parliament.

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It said it would aim to halve rough sleeping over the course of the next five years and eliminate it altogether by 2027.

“To achieve this we will set up a new homelessness reduction taskforce that will focus on prevention and affordable housing and we will pilot a Housing First approach to tackle rough sleeping,” it said.

Housing First, which involves providing housing support immediately and building support services around it, has helped virtually eliminate rough sleeping in Finland.

Inside Housing last year called on the government to pilot a version of the policy in the UK and commit to end rough sleeping, as part of our Cathy at 50 campaign which was launched to mark the 50th anniversary of the film Cathy Come Home.

READ MORE ABOUT INSIDE HOUSING’S CATHY AT 50 CAMPAIGN

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Cathy at 50

Rough sleeping has risen every year since the Conservatives were elected in 2010, rising 16% to reach 4,134 in autumn 2016.

Sajid Javid, communities secretary, had previously committed to a feasibility study for Housing First but not a full pilot.

In other pledges the Conservatives set a new housebuilding target of 500,000 homes between 2020 and 2022, after recommitting to its target to build one million by 2020.

The key housing pledges in the Conservative manifesto

  • New homes: build 500,000 new homes between 2020 and 2022, on top of the existing pledge to build 1m by 2020
  • Councils: help for councils to build, “but only those councils who will build high-quality, sustainable and integrated communities”
  • Public Land:repeat of the 2015 pledge to build 160,000 homes on government land
  • Homelessness: halve rough sleeping in next parliament and eliminate it by 2027 with a new “homelessness reduction taskforce” and a Housing First pilot
  • Right to Buy extension: no mention of the Right to Buy extension for housing associations, or the sell-off of council homes to pay for it
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