Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Homeless Problem One We Can All Fix Together; Emma Sinclair

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Homeless Problem One We Can All Fix Together; Emma Sinclair

Article excerpt

TODAY is World Homeless Day and an opportunity to address the silent crisis unfolding on our streets. Rough sleeping has shot up by 165% since 2010. Over that time we've seen the problem spread from the UK's largest cities to our own region.

Thankfully, we still have the lowest rate of homelessness in the country, but it is undoubtedly rising and without urgent action will only get worse.

It is a crisis that is having fatal consequences. Last year, 24 homeless people died on the streets in the North East. As a society, we have failed these people, many of whom have severe drug and mental health problems.

Leaving them to suffer on the streets risks their lives and creates a host of social issues that damage our communities.

People forced on to our streets are the most visible and extreme manifestation of homelessness but rough sleeping is only the tip of the iceberg. It is estimated that more than 320,000 people are homeless in Britain.

This includes many families with young children who are housed in temporary shelters, although still does not account for the hidden homeless who don't show up in official statistics but are living in overcrowded, badly kept homes or moving between the sofas of friends and family.

This is a scandal. And what's worse is that it is a scandal we can fix.

The UK has the world's fifth largest economy. There is no reason for anyone in our society to be deprived the basic human dignity of a safe and secure home. Yet so far there has not been the political will to address homelessness.

This must change.

At least on all sides of the political divide, it has now been recognised that we are in the grip of a housing crisis, and the Labour Party has set out policies to end it.

A Labour government will build one million genuinely affordable homes and will change the law to stop housing developers dodging their commitments to communities.

Labour will also scrap Universal Credit, which is widely seen to have been a major contributor to the recent spike in homelessness and evictions. …

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