It is shocking that in the 21st century there is no right to shelter - a single homeless person can approach their council for help and still be turned away to sleep on the streets.
Most single homeless people are not considered to be in ‘priority need’ for social housing, meaning that the council has no duty to find them accommodation.
The answer is to change the law so that all homeless people get the help they need.
Mr Adrian Windisch
Dear Mr Windisch,
I am writing to ask you to pledge your support to the No One Turned Away campaign, which is being run by the homelessness charity Crisis.
Homelessness has risen in recent years, with 112,000 households approaching their local council for help in 2013/14 and 2,744 people sleeping rough on any one night in 2014 - a rise of 55 per cent since 2010.
At the moment, many single homeless people get turned away with little or no help when they approach their council because they are not considered a ‘priority’ under the law in England. Some are forced to sleep on the streets as a result.
To investigate the scale of the problem, Crisis recently sent undercover researchers to 16 councils across England to test the support that is offered to homeless people. In 50 out of 87 council visits, they received little or no help at all. Across the country, this is likely to mean thousands of homeless people are asking for help and getting nothing.
The consequences of councils failing to intervene early can be devastating and trap people in homelessness for far longer.
Homelessness is a traumatic experience with huge impacts for an individual’s health and wellbeing. Mental and physical health problems can be caused or exacerbated by rough sleeping. Homelessness is also dangerous, with homeless people 13 times more likely to be a victim of crime than the general public. Shockingly, the average age of death for a homeless person is just 47 – 30 years younger than the national average.
No One Turned Away is calling for all political parties to make a commitment in their General Election Manifesto to carry out a review of the help that single homeless people get under the law. Already the campaign has been supported by 44,000 people.
I believe that homelessness needs to be a priority for the next government and that no-one should be forced to sleep rough, especially if they have asked for help.
If you agree, then please register your support for No One Turned Away at www.crisis.org.uk/candidates, where you can also find out more about the issue and the campaign.