New homelessness unit set up by government

A new homelessness directorate is to be introduced early next
year to look at all forms of homelessness, it has been announced,
writes Katie Leason.

Lord Falconer, minister for housing, planning and regeneration,
said the government would be taking a new approach to tackling
wider homelessness.

“Whilst not giving up on any vulnerable rough sleepers still
left, we must also look at helping those who may have a roof over
their heads but are nevertheless without a home,” he said.

“A new homelessness directorate will bring together and
invigorate existing work to help homeless people, as well as
develop new work to help prevent homelessness, and investigate its
underlying causes,” he said.

Government figures suggest that the number of people sleeping
rough in England has fallen by 71 per cent over the last three
years, from 1,850 in 1998 to 532 in 2001.

There are now said to be 264 rough sleepers in London compared
to 621 in 1998, two in Birmingham compared to 56, and six in
Brighton compared to 44, although some homelessness charities have
disputed the figures.

Louise Casey, head of the Rough Sleepers Unit, said that the
number of rough sleepers has decreased due to the determination of
charities, local authorities and the public.

“Our next step must be to ensure this reduction is sustained and
to understand why some people are still sleeping rough,” she

In the same week the government published its homelessness
figures, the charity Crisis launched a new campaign to highlight
the fact that 95 per cent of homelessness is hidden.

It estimates that 400,000 people either stay in hostels, on
friends’ floors or in bed and breakfast accommodation.











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