Homelessness: what can we learn from the pandemic’s surprising success story?
A new report reveals how homelessness was one of the ‘success’ stories of the pandemic – and sets out the lessons for the long term.
Centre for Homelessness Impact and IPPO Cities
In March 2020, homelessness became a public health emergency.
Governments feared that those who couldn’t stay at home risked contracting and spreading the disease, and being cut off from access to food, support and shelter.
Within a few weeks, thousands of people experiencing homelessness in the UK were accommodated and supported, with a large proportion later moving from emergency to settled accommodation.
For example, rough sleeping in England fell by 37% from 4,270 on a single night in autumn 2019 to 2,690 the following year and to 2,440 people in autumn 2021.
Key findings in the report include:
- Homelessness was the surprising ‘good news’ story of the pandemic in many global cities
- Success relied on a clear mandate from government or city authorities to do things differently
- Normal eligibility criteria for assistance was suspended
- Government, local authorities, health services and the voluntary sector and in some cases business (e.g. hoteliers) worked flexibly and stepped up to meet the emergency
- The experience presents an opportunity for a decisive shift away from the use of shelters towards own-room accommodation, which is safer and offers greater dignity
The release of this paper will be followed by an event taking place online on Thursday 31 March, 3.30-5.30 pm BST. Book your free ticket.