Is more emergency housing required to accommodate the homeless in winter?

Reducing homelessness and ending rough sleeping is a priority. The 2018 Homeless Reduction Act introduced a new duty on local authorities to take reasonable steps to prevent or relieve homelessness. The Government has committed to eliminating Rough Sleeping by the end of this Parliament. 

Often those sleeping rough are highly vulnerable with many complex needs. A recent survey showed that there were 11 rough sleepers in Chelmsford. There is a strong network of official and voluntary organisations in Chelmsford that support rough sleepers. 

In Chelmsford The Winter Project is run by CHESS Homeless. It offers an additional 10 bed-spaces to ensure that those who would otherwise be rough sleeping do not have to spend a night on the streets. This year it has already helped 33 individuals. This year the occupancy levels have met the maximum number more than in previous years. There is a need for more emergency bed spaces throughout the year, not only in winter. CHESS are seeking to deliver this as the new year progresses. CHESS is a charity, supported by local councils and government funding as well as donations.

The good news is that the Government is making more funding available. In December the Government announced a £263 million funding package to help local authorities to tackle homelessness. This included £770,000 for Chelmsford. This month a further £112 million has been made available under the Rough Sleeping Initiative including £380,000 for five Essex Councils including Chelmsford.

In the City of London, a recent project has proved very successful at encouraging those who are begging on the streets to access services. This brings together experts in medical, mental health, housing and benefits. A similar project is planned for Chelmsford.

 

Vicky Ford MP January 2020