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in Nacro comments Nacro housing

Nacro welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) London Housing Strategy. Nacro is pleased that the GLA has embedded the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 into the strategy as well as explicit references to working with the charity sector. We are also pleased to see references to tackling the root causes of homelessness as well as a whole section on youth homelessness and influencing the government to overturn recent housing benefit changes for 18 to 21-year olds.

Our expertise lies in housing homeless vulnerable groups with support needs as a registered social housing provider and social lettings agency through the Nacro Homes Agency (NHA). We operate a number of specialist housing projects including specialist housing for people with offending histories; Stody House for ex-servicemen and women; Latch House which accommodates people with addictions; a number of mental health and young person specific housing projects in Essex; and a housing project for victims of domestic abuse who are further supported within Nacro’s SWITCH Project in the North East.

Our provision is mainly comprised of self-contained accommodation across England and Wales, funded through commissioned and non-commissioned arrangements. We work in close partnership with local authorities and wider partners, enabling us to provide insight into the commissioning environment and the issues for supported housing providers. Therefore we have concentrated our short response on chapter seven which relates to the tackling homelessness and helping rough sleepers.

We have made suggestions in our response which may further strengthen the Strategy. We look forward to working with the GLA in the future to implement the strategy for some of London’s most vulnerable homeless population. We sit on a number of local authority vulnerable people housing strategy groups advising from our on the ground experience, and if the GLA has a similar group or platform, we would welcome the opportunity to be part of it. We believe that our unique expertise and acquired good practice in housing, employment, health and justice will greatly benefit the group’s discussions. We are more than happy to expand or clarify our comments. If you have further questions, please contact Rachel Annison rachel.annison@nacro.org.uk.

Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

At present the Strategy makes reference to the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 (HRA), however it would be helpful to provide some information on how the GLA intends to support individual local authorities to implement these new obligations. This includes how it will support the development of a holistic referral pathway as part of the duty on public bodies to refer cases in England to housing authorities.

Investing in Accommodation for Homeless Londoners

In addition to the vulnerable groups currently listed including victims of domestic abuse, rough sleepers and homeless veterans, we believe that other vulnerable groups should be included such as people with an offending history, older people, care leavers, people with drug and alcohol misuse problems, and people with multiple and complex needs. Each group experiences distinct barriers to accessing housing as well as presenting with different housing needs. We believe that this should be acknowledged within the Strategy to provide overarching strategies to addressing the needs of specific groups as well as developing good practice for individual London local authorities in preparing their own local housing strategies.

In addition to the government’s review of supported housing, there is a need for a housing strategy to meet the lifetime housing needs of people who have a vulnerability and are on low incomes which recognises positive housing options rather than a lifetime of navigating the housing safety net.

Taking people with an offending history as an example, appropriate housing is crucial to reducing stubborn reoffending rates and helping those with convictions to move on positively to crime free lives. We believe that it is vital that the GLA develops an overarching strategy to ensure that people leaving prison and those with unspent convictions have adequate access to housing and that this is explicitly linked to reducing reoffending. This should be linked to the London Police and Crime Plan. It is essential that criminal justice partners are involved in identifying the need for supported housing in local areas including Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and PCC for the City of London’s Police, prisons in London as well as the London Community Rehabilitation Company and the National Probation Service.

About Nacro

We are a national social justice charity with more than 50 years’ experience of changing lives, building stronger communities and reducing crime. We house, we educate, we support, we advise and we speak out for and with disadvantaged young people and adults. We are passionate about changing lives. We never give up. In 2016 we supported 20,000 disadvantaged young people and adults who faced challenges with education, housing, health or who have a history of offending. We aspire for our work to be consistently high quality, innovative and based on evidence. We work in partnership with more than a hundred organisations across public, private and charities. We use our knowledge of what works to help inform policy and shape practice. For more information, please visit www.nacro.org.uk.