Keith Prince AM: Golden opportunity we must grasp
We have a chance to eradicate rough sleeping in London and it's incumbent upon every level of government in our city to grasp this golden opportunity.
In response to the coronavirus, the Government and local authorities provided 15,000 vulnerable people who were either on the streets or at risk of sleeping rough with safe, temporary accommodation.
This impressive feat not only kept the homeless safe during the pandemic but also effectively eradicated rough sleeping across the country. The challenge we now face is to keep a roof over their heads and stop rough sleeping rising again after this crisis.
As your London Assembly Member, I have long championed the 'Housing First' solution to homelessness in London. This approach would provide rough sleepers with accommodation and then work with them to tackle the problems which led to them sleeping on the streets.
It's naive to think that a vulnerable person who is struggling with addiction or abusive families or unable to get a job can solve these problems while on the streets. That's why the first step should be to get people into accommodation and then support them to tackle these challenges.
After the country's coronavirus response, we now have precisely that opportunity. There are around 5,000 people currently being housed in hotels across London. Now is the time to permanently accommodate them help them get off the streets for good.
This effort will require every level of government in London to work together. The Government is putting the funding in place and London's councils have proven themselves able to get people off the streets.
As your voice in City Hall, I will be pushing for our city to grasp this opportunity and end rough sleeping in London once and for all.
Article by Keith Prince AM first published in the Romford Recorder.