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Roadmap out of lockdown means more homelessness

It is the great news that the country has been waiting for - there is a route out of lockdown and the pandemic as we know it. Whilst at the Foundation we celebrate this for our volunteers and the public at large, not everyone will be happy. People who are vulnerably housed or are housed in temporary accommodation like hotels as a result of the pandemic response and 'Everyone In' scheme will be extremely worried and rightly so.

One policy that has not made many headlines is the eviction freeze which has temporarily stopped landlords, housing associations and estate agents from moving anyone out even if they are behind on their rent payments. The eviction ban is set to end in March which - unless the policy is extended again - means there will be a tidal wave of Section 21 Eviction Notices. Research by the LSE estimates 45,000 people will be made homeless after the lockdown/pandemic and this will cost the Government billions of pounds in costs of accommodation and services.

It is emblematic that the general public and those in authority continue to lose connection with those people who are homeless because those individuals do not cross their lives every day in a impactful way, but what surprises me is the homelessness sector is even behind the narrative.

For months now the Foundation has been campaigning to get Government to legally mandate Council's and Housing Associations to bring back into habitable state empty properties lying empty with no owners. #HomelessnessIsComing is a reality, but many are still not quite understanding the issue.

Rough sleeping figures have gone down because of Government, local authority and charities working together to make sure they are safe during these difficult time - however there is a severe lack of proactive vision to the crisis coming quickly down the road.

If before the roadmap out of COVID-19 was not a stark wakeup call, then the announcement by the Government and the dates set yesterday certainly should be. The UK is facing a homelessness crisis in a world that is very different to what we are used to: £400bn in debt and rising alongside the precedent set that rough sleeping can be "solved" in 72 hours.

The Government, homelessness sector and the public need to act now before it is too late and people end up dying on the streets. It's now time we respond to the homelessness crisis coming.

Hugo Sugg,

CEO, Cardon Banfield Foundation

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