Camden Council to implement a new Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy

National changes to the welfare benefit system, a shortage of affordable housing and increased private rents have impacted nationally, contributing to a homelessness crisis, which in the worst incidences can result in rough sleeping.

Camden Council will implement a new Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy, following approval at the cabinet meeting held on 17 July.

We are already building much-needed new homes under the Community Investment Programme (CIP). Key new initiatives include redeveloping hostel provision to respond to the needs of some of our borough’s most vulnerable people, purchasing 58 former Right to Buy properties for use as temporary accommodation for homeless families and working closely with our partners in order to provide greater support and work opportunities for the homeless.

Camden has a proud track record of reducing the number of households having to live in temporary accommodation through its focus on prevention and supporting households to move on as quickly as possible to more settled housing. In 2004 there were 2,000 households in our temporary accommodation, today there are 515 but we want to do even better.

Camden has also increased its investment in specialist services to tackle rough sleeping and related street activity in the borough, which has increased significantly over the last five years. New teams and services are being delivered under the rough sleeping strategy Routes off The Street (RTS). Under RTS, Camden has developed new specialist teams with its partners to tackle high-risk hotspots in the borough and commissioned a new re-connection service enabling those rough sleepers arriving from different parts of the UK to safely access housing and support in their home area.

In 2018 Camden was awarded £870,000 under the Government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative, which was the single largest award made to any Local Authority in the UK, endorsing the innovative approaches made by services in Camden. These new funds have enabled Camden to expand its outreach services and reach out to the most vulnerable at risk on our streets including female rough sleepers, those who are new to the streets and those with no recourse to public funds.

Camden was the first local authority in England to launch a Housing First service. The service provides independent accommodation with floating support for single homeless people with complex needs. Last year, the service successfully found tenancies for 12 people and this year, thanks to the RSI funding, they will be able to help even more vulnerable people, with the total number housed expanding to 44.

Camden is determined to go further to ensure no one in the borough gets left behind. Its new strategy seeks to address these challenges and identifies four priorities.

Prevention: we want to stop people from becoming homeless.

The council will ensure that information on housing options is easily accessible, support residents facing eviction and use its resources to target support at those at highest risk of homelessness.

Supporting: we will support those experiencing homelessness and help them to regain their independence.

The council will continue to provide rough sleepers with a “route off the street”, through accessing affordable accommodation, and where appropriate, supporting recovery and independence through a personalised approach, whilst working in partnership with Housing Associations, voluntary and community partners to make the best use of available resources.

Tackling causes of homelessness: we will address the long-term root causes of homelessness.

The council and partners will address this by continuing to build more homes and using its existing social housing more effectively, supporting others to build more and working with landlords to find more affordable homes, whilst removing barriers to employment through training and education opportunities. One of the ways the council are working to combat a shortage of affordable housing is through its Community Investment Programme (CIP).

Campaigning: using our voice to fight for a national response to the challenges of chronic housing shortage, instability and homelessness.

The council will urge the government for further freedom and funding to be able to build more homes and also to implement changes in the welfare system, alongside the creation of a more functional and accessible private rented sector

“We currently have the lowest number of households in temporary accommodation in inner London and have invested in preventative services that seek to support people to remain in their existing home.

“Moving forward, we have just agreed to invest £22m in buying back former right to buy properties in Camden for use as temporary housing which will keep those families in Camden close to their support networks, jobs and schools. We are also embarking on a £16m redevelopment programme of two of our existing hostels.  

“A combination of the growing housing crisis and fewer social homes, combined with benefit and welfare reform and newly emerging changes in legislation are impacting our ability to effectively address these issues.”
Councillor Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Better Homes
“Building on what we know from experience has worked well in our previous approach; our new strategy, aligning with our Camden 2025 vision for the borough, robustly addresses the prevention of homelessness and will help rough sleepers find a sustainable way off the streets, addressing one of the most visible occurrences of inequality in the borough.

“The challenge of preventing homelessness is a nationwide issue, particularly in major cities like London, and along with the terrible impact of rough sleeping; we are committed to using our experience, resources and creativity to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring, and are determined to enable everyone to access a stable, secure and decent home.”
Councillor Nadia Shah, Camden Council’s Cabinet Member for Safer Communities

In December 2018, the public were invited to have their say on the draft strategy. We received over 600 responses. Thank you to everyone who took part in the consultation. The feedback received assisted the council in strengthening sections of the strategy including mental health, young people, co-ordinating volunteers, remodelling and purchase of temporary accommodation, more housing advice and options updates for those in temporary accommodation and working with business and employers.

You can read the relevant cabinet papers on the council's website