The mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has launched a new homelessness prevention strategy for the city region, which includes plans to deliver 30,000 new social rent homes.
The draft Greater Manchester Homelessness Prevention Strategy, which is now open for public consultation, comes as Burnham ramps up his drive to end homelessness in the city region following his re-election until 2024 earlier this month.
Placing emphasis on tackling poor-quality and insecure housing, the strategy will feature a Good Landlord Charter to prevent unfair evictions across Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs, along with a new commitment to improve the standards of temporary accommodation for homeless families.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) leaders have also pledged to deliver 30,000 new zero-carbon homes for social rent. The combined authority will publish a “detailed” plan on how to deliver the homes within the next year.
Burnham said: “We have reduced the number of people sleeping rough but there is no room for complacency. The Eviction Ban will end at some point and we know there has been a rise in the number of people are in rent arrears. We need to be ready to support people and prevent homelessness wherever we can.
“This is why the time is right to bring forward Greater Manchester’s first Homelessness Prevention Strategy. As well as continuing to provide support for people sleeping rough, we need to broaden our focus to the root causes of homelessness. We know that the single biggest cause of homelessness in Greater Manchester is eviction from private-rented housing.
“We need to raise standards in the private-rented sector and provide better protection for renters. That’s why we are placing a new Greater Manchester Good Landlord Charter at the heart of our plans. Alongside our commitment to build more homes for social rent, it will help us deliver our goal of good, secure homes for all of our residents.”
Homelessness has been a key focus for Burnham since he was first elected as mayor of Greater Manchester in 2018, with the GMCA’s successful A Bed Every Night scheme regularly accommodating around 520 people a night across the city region.
While rough sleeping rates in Greater Manchester have decreased 53% since 2017, they are still three times higher than 2010.
The GMCA says its new homelessness prevention strategy aims to build on the success of ABEN by radically reducing “all forms of homelessness” in the city region, including working to end rough sleeping.
The strategy, developed alongside Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities, service users and representatives of the Greater Manchester Homelessness Programme Board, includes targeted investment to develop around 300 accommodation units for rough sleepers, sited in boroughs across the city region.
The GMCA added that implementing the strategy will involve “local and regional activity, and working with national government”.
Paul Dennett, GMCA lead on housing and homelessness, commented: “This Greater Manchester Homelessness Prevention Strategy considers how we truly prevent homelessness, as well as mitigating the risks of homelessness when they occur.
“Homelessness is a consequence of a failing system. In order to prevent homelessness, we must centre on the experiences of people who face inequalities and discrimination that put them at higher risk of homelessness. The wellbeing and participation of those involved in working to find a solution is critical, as is increasing the supply of truly affordable housing, tackling poverty pay and job insecurity and reforming welfare.
“Tackling these wider determinants of homelessness and rough sleeping, and the structural inequalities that underpin the emergence of homelessness and rough sleeping, is absolutely vital.”
The GMCA’s new homelessness prevention strategy is open for consultation until 26 June. Feedback from the consultation will feed into the final strategy which is set to be approved later this year.
Image: The Greater Manchester skyline. Credit: Paul Rhoades/Pixabay.