Remaining rough sleepers suffer biggest problems

Many of the rough sleepers left on the streets have the greatest
needs and multiple problems, according to two leading homelessness
charities, writes Jonathan Pearce.

Analysis of Millennium Plus, an initiative run jointly by
Shelter and Crisis, has found three main problems affecting the
1,500 homeless people it has worked with. Alcohol and drug problems
affected 35 per cent of people, while 27 per cent had a mental
health problem and 17 per cent a physical health problem.

The initiative, set up two years ago, also found that many had a
common route into homelessness, with over a quarter of rough
sleepers citing relationship breakdown as a primary cause, and a
fifth pointing to a lost tenancy or home.

Of the 1,500 homeless people involved in the initiative, a
comprehensive needs assessment was carried out with 379, leading to
individual action plans aimed at finding long-term housing and the
support needed to sustain it. Housing was found for 362 people.

Shelter director Chris Holmes said: “We applaud the
government’s work on street homelessness, but it is vital we
don’t stop at this.

“We need an effective, compassionate strategy to meet the needs
of those on the streets after the government’s target is

Both charities hope that Millennium Plus might be adopted as a
multi-agency model that local authorities can use in their
homelessness strategies, which they may be required to produce and
publish under forthcoming homelessness legislation.

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