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The Passage and Crisis join forces to launch No Going Back campaign preventing street homelessness this winter

In the lead-up to World Homelessness Day on Saturday 10 October, homelessness charities The Passage and Crisis have joined forces to launch the No Going Back campaign. The campaign is urging those at risk of housing crisis to follow essential advice and know their rights in order to prevent people ending up on the streets this winter.

The country is entering a severe recession and rising levels of unemployment. We are now facing a second spike in Covid-19 infections and emergency measures, such as the ban on evictions and the government’s furlough scheme, are ending. Whilst the charities welcome the UK Government’s Job Support Scheme, this will undoubtedly mean thousands of ‘non-viable’ job losses.

This situation coincides with The Passage reaching its 40-year milestone and the very real prospect of hundreds of people facing housing crisis over the coming months. With the leading cause of homelessness being the loss of private rented tenancy, the charities are warning that many could experience homelessness for the first time. Since lockdown eased at the beginning of July, the number of people seeking help at The Passage Resource Centre has doubled.

No Going Back has three clear aims: 

  • Both charities are calling on central Government to ensure that ring-fenced funding is made available to local authorities for a second ‘Everyone In’ initiative in the event of further lockdowns this winter
  • The Passage has issued five top tips for people in housing crisis, so that those who need it most can be informed about the best steps to take
  • Crisis are encouraging people in housing crisis to know their rights.

The campaign also issues a rallying call to landlords, Government and local Councils to ensure that nobody is evicted this winter.

During the first wave of Covid-19, The Passage and Crisis, together with other partners including central government and local authorities, moved hundreds of rough sleepers into safe accommodation where they were able to self-isolate. Street homelessness has no place in 21st century Britain; the emergency response to the pandemic clearly demonstrates that ending it is within reach.

With 40 years’ experience on the frontline, The Passage is offering essential advice to people in housing crisis:

  1. Talk to your landlord and explain your situation. If possible, have someone with you to support you during your discussion.
  2. Do not abandon your property. You have legal rights if you have a tenancy agreement.
  3. Contact your local council. They have a legal duty to help prevent you from becoming homeless and can find you a solution or alternative accommodation. (Do not delay contacting them. Be persistent, if you do not get an answer, follow up, and ask someone to come with you for support if possible). 
  4. If you feel like you cannot talk to your landlord, or tell a friend or family member, contact the national helpline (run by Shelter) on 0808 800 4444.The helpline is open 365 days a year and they offer comprehensive solutions to resolve a wide range of housing issues, supporting you through the entire process.
  5. Remember that however big the issue may be, it can be resolved if the right people are informed.

Mick Clarke, Chief Executive of The Passage says, “The 40th anniversary of The Passage coincides with a crucial point in time; the country is now officially in recession, raising the very real prospect of many people facing housing crisis and street homelessness this winter. Unless we act quickly, rough sleeping in this country could very well exceed the extortionate levels seen in the last few years. It doesn’t have to be this way. We saw what can be achieved when there is the political will, a sense of urgency and partnership; there should be no going back to the shameful levels of street homelessness we have witnessed in recent times.”

Fergus Johnston, a senior Passage Case Worker says, “Our teams have been supporting homeless people for 40 years and in this time we have seen the same problems arise time and time again. Common difficulties include a build-up of rent arrears, job loss or redundancy, people delaying to seek help and the situation spiralling out of control. In many cases people abandon their properties when they might not need to. It’s vital that we reach out to those who are in housing crisis and at risk of becoming homeless for the first time – to offer essential advice and to ensure that they do not end up on the streets and at our door.”

Crisis are calling on people in housing crisis to be aware of their rights, with the charity issuing a warning to landlords and Councils:

  1. For tenants – there should be no evictions this winter.
    1. It is important to be aware that, due to recent changes, in most cases even if landlords issue an eviction notice, tenants should not be evicted for another six months. If you have rental arrears of more than six months, you will be issued a notice of four weeks and should contact your council immediately.
    2. Recent changes in the law also mean that councils now have a duty to help prevent homelessness, so you should contact them if you are concerned.
  2. For landlords – it is vital that landlords follow the law and do not evict people, particularly by circumnavigating the system.
  3. For Councils – it is essential that all Councils are set up and ready to help prevent homelessness and rough sleeping this winter. The pandemic is a public health emergency and so any previous legal restrictions that have denied some people help should be disregarded.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis says “Housing has become one of the first lines of defence against coronavirus. To protect the lives of thousands, councils must be given sufficient funding so there can be a consistent approach to ensuring people threatened with eviction, and those at risk of homelessness, get the support they need, when they need it most. Crisis is calling on Government to ensure that everyone facing homelessness can access safe, self-contained accommodation so that they have somewhere safe to stay in the pandemic.”

In particular, this must include:

  • Ensuring everyone facing homelessness in England has access to temporary emergency accommodation
  • Ensuring no one is left without a safe place to stay because of their immigration status
  • Preventing people from becoming homeless by ensuring everyone can afford a settled home.

Today, the charities have sent a joint letter to Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, offering to meet to discuss how they can help the Government build on the collaborative approach taken during the first wave of Covid-19 and ensure funding and plans are in place in the event of a further lockdown.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

About The Passage

The Passage opened its doors for the first time in October 1980 in response to the growing number of people rough sleeping on the streets of Westminster.

Over the past 40 years, they have worked in partnership with many agencies to help thousands of people off the streets into safe and secure accommodation and employment. They now run the largest Resource Centre in the UK as well as three innovative accommodation projects, homelessness prevention services, street outreach and an award-winning Modern Slavery project. The Passage also runs a project in Brighton and Hove connecting local services with the aim of reducing rough sleeping.

For further information / to arrange an interview with Mick Clarke, Chief Executive of The Passage, please contact The Passage media team on 020 7592 1856 or email [email protected]

About Crisis

Crisis work directly with thousands of homeless people every year. They provide vital help so that people can rebuild their lives and are supported out of homelessness for good. Together with homeless people and Crisis supporters, they campaign for the changes needed to end homelessness for good.

For further information contact the Crisis media team on 020 7426 3880, [email protected], or 07973 372587 (out of hours).