Three London boroughs help those on the brink of homelessness

The City of London Corporation and the London Boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets have launched No First Night Out - a new project to prevent people from turning to rough sleeping.

The initiative is funded by the Greater London Authority and Department of Communities and Local Government.

New research prepared by St Mungo’s for the councils included interviews with 34 new rough sleepers.

It found the three main tipping points into rough sleeping were an end to temporary accommodation with friends or family, being asked to leave the family home, and the threat of eviction from a rented property.

The local authorities will use the findings to predict who might sleep out before they actually do.

New specialist No First Night Out housing officers will work with local authority housing and social care teams - as well as religious organisations, medical, legal and employment services - to identify those at risk of a first night on the streets.

Individuals identified as at risk of rough sleeping will receive rapid, intensive homelessness prevention and housing support.

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Community & Children’s Services Committee, said:

“Tackling homelessness is one of the biggest challenges facing local authorities across London and the UK.

“New rough sleepers often have long and complex journeys into homelessness, often involving mental health problems, alcohol dependency or drug abuse.

“This new project demonstrates our commitment to doing everything we can to help those on the brink through joint working and early intervention.”

Cllr Philip Glanville, Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said:

“Tackling homelessness is a priority for the Council and understanding the root causes of it is a vital step in the prevention process.

“This new cross-borough task force will see the pooling of resources and skills to ensure rapid, practical help is given before those at risk of homelessness end up on the streets.” 

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said:

“The personal stories of homeless people often show how easy it is to suddenly be faced with the stark realities of homelessness, without a safe or secure roof over one’s head.

“Homelessness can also be an unfortunate side-effect of other issues including family breakdown, health conditions or problems with addiction.

“This intensive and intelligence-led approach will help ensure that more people get the support needed before their problems see them being left out on the streets.”

“It’s also important we continue to tackle those rogue landlords who fail to act responsibly by using practices such as revenge evictions to force tenants out of their homes.”

The No First Night Out service will also be advertised in Job Centre Plus, Probation, Citizen’s Advice and local libraries, churches and mosques. It complements the existing No Second Night Out initiative, which focuses on helping London’s existing new rough sleepers.

As part of the funding, current rough sleepers who have a local connection to another area of England or Wales will also be provided with additional support through the new Safe Connections service to access accommodation and support.