More than 90 homes for rough sleepers in the North East are set to be ready by March as part of efforts to tackle homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic.
Every region in the country will see new homes made available by spring after the recent approval of more than 3,300 properties and more than £150 million of Government investment, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced.
The investment is part of a long-term strategy, accelerated during the coronavirus crisis, to use a £433 million fund to build 6,000 new homes for homeless people by the end of the Parliament in 2024.
The delivery plan comes on the back of the Everyone In campaign, which saw attempts in March to find every homeless person safe accommodation to guard against the spread of infection.
In total, 276 housing schemes for rough sleepers have been approved across England, including 38 in London where 904 homes are set to be provided.
Outside of London, 238 councils have received approval to move to the next phase of development, encompassing 2,430 new homes.
Mr Jenrick said: “Our Everyone In plan is widely considered the most effective action taken by any country in the world to protect those sleeping rough from the pandemic.
“And that work hasn’t stopped – 29,000 rough sleepers and other vulnerable people have been supported into safe accommodation since the start of Covid-19.
“The next step in our mission is to ensure they have a more settled home.
“That is why we are providing over £150 million, as part of the biggest ever investment in homes for the homeless, to deliver over 3,000 new long-term homes across England, giving them the stability and security they need to start to rebuild their lives.”
Kate Henderson, chief executive at the National Housing Federation, said: “It’s positive that this funding has now been allocated to provide long-term homes for rough sleepers.
“These homes, along with support, will be vital in ensuring people who have experienced rough sleeping do not return to the streets.”
The Ministry of Housing said the funding for house building is on top of the £91.5 million allocated to 274 councils in September to fund their individual local plans for rough sleepers over the coming months, as well as the £10 million Cold Weather Payment for councils to help to keep rough sleepers safe this winter.
Once housed, rough sleepers will be supported by specialist staff to access help for their health needs and move towards training and work.
Councillor David Renard, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesman, said: “It is good the Government has announced allocations for funding to secure desperately-needed new homes for people in emergency accommodation.
“Councils also want to see a Government shift towards investing in measures needed to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.
“This includes giving councils the powers to build the desperately-needed new generation of social housing the country needs and restoring local welfare funding so councils can provide preventative support to all households who need it.”
Polly Neate, chief executive of charity Shelter, said: “With the double blow of a deadly virus and cold winter weather, we welcome this support for people forced to sleep rough.
“This marks a step forward in helping people who’ve lived through the trauma of homelessness to rebuild their lives in the long-term.”
She called for ministers to “tackle the root causes of homelessness” if it was to meet its target of entirely eradicating street living within the next four years.