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Covid's economic crisis will increase homelessness unless a new approach is taken charities warn

HOMELESSNESS will soar as a result of the coronavirus crisis unless ministers take a new approach on rough sleeping, the Salvation Army warned today. 

The charity said that the financial downturn from the Covid-19 pandemic will force families into expensive and unsuitable temporary accommodation.

In its report, the charity called for sustained investment to build on progress made during the pandemic, a new approach to investment in homelessness and rough sleeping — and an increase in the supply of available homes.

Salvation Army director of homelessness services Lorrita Johnson warned that if the government mirrored the austerity approach it took during the last economic crisis, there would be “dire consequences” for rough sleepers, private renters and the broader economy.

She said: “It’s not too late to stop a massive increase in homelessness and rough sleeping caused by the current economic downturn.

“Bold government moves like the furlough scheme, temporary protection from eviction and emergency accommodation for rough sleepers saved lives and ensured thousands still had a home.

“The only way to prevent a homelessness and rough sleeping crisis is to approach funding for homelessness services in the same way the government funds physical infrastructure and invest for the future.”

Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Iain Porter said the government must match its “ambitious rhetoric” on ending rough sleeping with the “necessary resources to get the job done.”

“Increasing housing benefit levels to the lowest third of local rents was a good first step to protect private renters during the pandemic,” he said. 

“And at a minimum, the government should maintain this support to prevent more people being pushed into homelessness by high housing costs.”

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