Posted: 21.07.21 at 17:55 by Ellie Brown
Kingston Council has been given £1.2 million by the UK government to support rough sleepers in the borough.
The funding, announced in May 2021, comes from the government's Rough Sleeping Initiative which helps Councils across the UK fund innovative projects to help people off the streets in their area.
In a press release announcing the news, the Council said that since the pandemic hit in March 2020 it has brought in 180 rough sleepers and those at imminent risk of rough sleeping off the streets into emergency accommodation, using local hotels and private rented properties to support the effort.
The Council was also given £1.5 million by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Greater London Authority as part of its Next Steps Accommodation programme
This funding will help the Council find properties and identify support for rough sleepers.
In 2019, an FOI request showed that the number of people living in temporary accommodation in Kingston had increased by 65.9%.
Kingston upon Thames also came in 24 of the top 30 highest local rates of homeless people across England, in a report published by charity Shelter in December 2019.
But in an 'autumn snapshot' published last year, government researchers found 14 people sleeping rough on a single night in Kingston, down from 20 the previous year and the decade's high of 27 in 2017.
For more information on support for rough sleepers in the borough, visit the Kingston Council website HERE .
The government's Rough Sleeping Initiative was set up in 2018 to provide money for projects by local authorities to help homeless people off the streets.
In May the government claimed that the scheme had cut rough sleeping across the UK by a third in the 4 years since it began.
But Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of homeless charity Crisis , said the funding did not go far enough.
He told the Evening Standard that though he welcomed the funding, "the number of people helped by this funding will only scratch the surface."
He said: “For people with multiple support needs who require specialist programmes, like housing first , to help them out of homelessness for good, this announcement falls short.
“Without such sustained support, those helped off the streets today risk returning to them tomorrow.”
Lorna Brooke, Corporate Head of Community Housing for Kingston Council said:
"The response has been testament to the strength of partnership working.
"There has been a huge amount of work done by our staff and partners to meet the challenges of people who were sleeping rough and were on the streets when the pandemic struck.
"We quickly moved to ensure there was a room for everyone who needed it and our staff and support agencies ensured they were looked after and supported. It has been a challenge which everyone involved has risen to and has been a huge success."
Councillor Emily Davey, Portfolio Holder for Housing said:
"The response to this emergency by the council and its partners has been exceptional.
"This new funding for the Rough Sleeper Initiative for 2021/2022 will allow those in need to continue to receive support and somewhere to live as we emerge from the pandemic - and that includes anyone who finds themselves new to living on the streets.
"It is also vital we continue to work hard to reduce the numbers of rough sleepers from our streets still further, and this will remain a priority."
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