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Tag Archive: homelessness

  1. How can MMC help the homelessness crisis?

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    We’ve been in a housing crisis for quite some time. With the effects of the pandemic not fully known yet, it’s likely to only get worse. According to the National Housing Federation, an estimated 8.4 million people in England are living in unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable homes. Of those, 400,000 people are homeless or at risk of homelessness. This number is only set to grow. But could modern methods of construction (MMC) be a solution?

    The homelessness crisis

    The Rough Sleeping Initiative, launched in 2018, is part of the Government’s strategy which aims to end rough sleeping by 2027. The initiative is targeted at local authorities across England with high numbers of people sleeping rough to tackle the issue and get people into suitable homes.  

    Under the Housing Act 1996, local housing authorities in England have a duty to secure accommodation for unintentionally homeless households in an emergency. While more permanent housing is secured, people may be placed in temporary accommodation. By June 2020, there were over 98,000 households in temporary accommodation. An increase of 14% from the previous year. Though the rise was driven by an increase in single adult households, and may be related to the Covid-19 ‘everyone in’ scheme. This figure has been rising since December 2011, and seems to be growing year on year.

    Housing charity, Shelter, has said that at least 1.2 million new homes are needed to tackle the housing crisis. CPRE has said that there’s enough brownfield land to accommodate up to 1.3 million new homes. But new housing developments typically take around three to five years to complete. In this time, the numbers of people who need housing will only grow.

    So what’s the solution?

    MMC has been posed as a solution for some time but the uptake is still slow. Modular buildings can be delivered up to 50% quicker than traditional builds. They’re also 90% completed offsite, which means they don’t have the challenges of poor weather and are built in a controlled factory environment. There’s also minimal disruption to neighbouring communities. 

    If you’d like to find out more about how we can provide a solution, get in touch. You can also have a look at some homes we’ve already built here.   

  2. Children without homes

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    It’s estimated that around 400,000 people are homeless or at risk of going homeless in England. Sadly, a large proportion of those are children without homes. According to a report launched by Shelter, 135,000 children are homeless or living in temporary accommodation. The highest number in 12 years. 

    Emergency accommodation

    This report shines a light on the 5,683 homeless families with children currently living in emergency B&Bs and hostels. Arguably the worst type of accommodation. Here, families tend to live in one room with hardly any space to play, cook or eat meals. Sometimes they’re even forced to share a bathroom with strangers. This accommodation, as they’re placed there in an emergency, is often located far from schools, jobs and loved ones too. This unfortunately means that these children often suffer in school. Not only do they struggle to actually get to school, they can end up falling behind the rest of their classmates. 

    Around 1.5 million children were forecast to fall into poverty between 2010 and 2021, according to Shelter UK who dubbed it a ‘national disgrace’. And that was before the world was plunged into a global pandemic. With the furlough scheme due to end and a significant number of redundancies being forecast, numbers are only set to rise. 

    How can we get children into a safe home?

    We know that we’ve been in a housing crisis for some time, and that we need a lot more homes than we are building. But the solution isn’t just to ‘build more homes’. They need to be safe, secure, accessible and affordable. Families need to be able to live and still be able to put food on the table. 

    The right home environment is essential for our health and mental wellbeing. Meeting National Space Standards, our homes provide families with ample space. Children are able to spend time together whilst also having the space to be able to have some time to themselves to complete homework or just take some time out. We also build with placemaking in mind. Actively encouraging communities to grow and thrive so families and children are able to socialise helping to combat loneliness.

    New homes also need to be fit for the future. Our bespoke, affordable and accessible family modular homes come with a lifetime guarantee of 60 years and are built to meet future demand. Our bespoke service means that we’re flexible enough to work closely with our clients to design and build the homes that they want and need. So not every home will look the same and can also meet different needs, for different people. Lots of homes across the country aren’t suitable. We need to be building homes that last and that families can grow old in. 

    We can help councils and local authorities meet the immediate housing needs across the UK. If children have somewhere safe to call their home, they have the space to do homework and play that isn’t also the same place that they have to eat and wash. Enabling them to thrive at school and later in life.

    Find out how we can help get children without homes into safe, affordable ones by reaching out.

  3. London boroughs fear a ‘summer wave’ of homelessness

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    London boroughs fear a ‘summer wave’ of homelessness in the capital as a result of covid-19. Councils have pointed to a series of upcoming risks threatening to significantly increase the levels of homelessness not just in London but right across the country. 

    Unemployment fears after the furlough scheme ends and high rent arrears from those who have already lost their jobs, threatening to push people into homelessness. Recent research from the LSE suggests 400,000 Londoners are in significant rent arrears due to covid-19. This is only set to get worse throughout England. 

    The government’s temporary ban on evictions is also due to be lifted on 31 May. Following this, councils are anticipating a spike in renters in high arrears facing eviction and having to turn to their local authorities for help to avoid becoming homeless. While the ban helped people in financial difficulty keep a roof over their head, there’s been no talk of additional support to help renters pay off any arrears. 

    There’s also a lot of uncertainty around homelessness funding. Earlier this week we issued our thoughts around councils getting funding for rough sleepers and those at risk of homelessness in response to the pandemic and the government’s ‘Everyone In’ scheme. Though this was a welcome scheme, there’s no clarity on what will happen after the 21 June when restrictions are set to lift. There are also wider concerns that councils are still failing to house rough sleepers. Despite a High Court ruling that found councils have the legal powers to help those who wouldn’t be eligible for support during the pandemic. 

    The government said that councils have faced significant challenges in the delivery of 3300 supported homes for rough sleepers. Plans last October, laid out by the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, outlined that the government had approved more than 3000 homes for rough sleepers to keep them safe during the pandemic. In response to a recent Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee report on homelessness and private renting, the government indicated that it had missed its target. Thought it didn’t disclose how many homes had actually been delivered.

    The capital faces the most severe homelessness crisis in the country. Councils currently estimate that there are around 165,000 people sleeping rough in London and living in borough-provided temporary accommodation. This number accounts for two-thirds of England’s homelessness total and almost 70% of London households in temporary accommodation have at least one child. Councils now fear that with no clear support following the lifting of restrictions, new records of homelessness could be set this year unless the government steps in. 

    Councils are looking to the government to increase investment in homelessness prevention. They need the government to outline plans for support following the lifting of restrictions, if any, and improve councils’ resources for building social housing to make sure there are enough homes for everyone. They’re also calling on the government to restore government funding for councils’ local welfare assistance schemes and to end the five-week wait for Universal Credit payments to begin. 

    There are already vast numbers of families on social housing waiting lists. These numbers are only set to grow when private renters lose their homes. Councils need more investment in housing and more resources to make decisions on the types of houses they build. Too many councils stick with traditional house building methods but they aren’t quick to build and planning processes are notoriously difficult. This means people often end up in hotels or cramped in one or two rooms, living on top of each other. It also means that local authorities and councils are spending a large part of their budget on hotels. This ‘summer wave’ of homelessness could be avoided but only if a resolution is found quickly.

    We can relieve councils and local authorities across England and provide a solution for their housing needs with ‘meanwhile housing’. Temporary housing, that doesn’t compromise on space or quality. It sits in vacant spaces until it’s needed for more permanent housing and saves money on unsuitable B&Bs. People can live in these homes temporarily while getting access to further support to gain work or until they’re able to find a more permanent home. 

  4. Shipping container homes versus meanwhile housing

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    Now it’s no secret that we’re in a housing crisis and the numbers of those sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness are rising. There have been two main solutions pushed – shipping container homes and meanwhile housing. But what’s the best solution?

    Shipping Container Homes

    Innovative plans have been submitted to Manchester City Council to transform shipping containers into new temporary homes for rough-sleepers. Homeless charity, Embassy, plans to build 40 modular homes forming a new village on a derelict city centre site. This scheme is set to help vulnerable people get back on their feet by giving them a roof over their head, extra support and life-skills. Their long-term plan is to help residents find full-time work. Eventually moving on to more permanent homes. 

    The Embassy Village, if approved, will be built on a derelict site below the railway arches between the Bridgewater Canal and River Irwell. It would also include a village hall and a communal outdoor space for sport, socialising and other activities like gardening. Any potential residents will be ‘triaged’ identifying those willing to take up the opportunities of training, housing and routes into work. A lot of homeless people spend years going from shelter to shelter waiting for something more permanent and often don’t get help or support.

    Shipping containers are durable, eco-friendly and save on costs. They’ve also helped councils across England solve immediate housing issues. A report from the Children’s Commissioner for England has found that this is an increasingly popular way to provide emergency housing. But it also found that a lot of these homes weren’t designed with children in mind. 

    For families, the size of these homes is an issue. They’re only temporary but for some it has felt like a prison because of overcrowding. There is barely enough space to live let alone have any sort of privacy. Noise also travels across the containers too. So if they’re stacked above one another, people are kept awake. The poor design also means that some of these containers are blisteringly hot in summer and freezing in winter. Making it difficult for people to feel comfortable.

    ‘Meanwhile Housing’

     ‘Meanwhile housing’ is where temporary housing is built on vacant land until it’s needed for other purposes. It’s actively encouraged to help move families out of poor temporary housing and into more affordable, beautiful looking homes. We build these homes offsite, and make sure that they’re suitable for both temporary and lifetime living. 

    Unlike the criticised shipping container homes, these homes all meet National Space Standards. Our high-quality meanwhile homes maximise space with fitted furniture and appliances. While providing bright, open spaces for people to live in. They also create a well insulated living environment, helping to regulate the temperatures so people aren’t left sweltering in summer and freezing in winter. 

    Our ‘meanwhile home’ offering is also energy efficient. Not only saving residents money on annual energy bills but also providing good acoustic performance with minimal noise transfer. We’re also able to provide ample green space for people to get outside, socialise or just get some fresh air. 

    What’s the best option?

    Well it’s not a tough call. Shipping containers may have been fine as a temporary measure but our ‘meanwhile housing’ offering definitely beats it in terms of design. We want to make sure that even though people are only in the home for a short time, they’re comfortable and improve wellbeing. This has been taken up by several councils across England and we hope to work with more and provide a more suitable solution for the homelessness and housing crises. 

  5. What is the ‘Everyone in’ Initiative?

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    In what was described as a “landmark moment” by the Chief Executive of Crisis in March 2020, the Government asked local authorities across England to “get everyone in”. This included those who wouldn’t normally be entitled to assistance under homelessness legislation. 

    ‘Everyone in’ initiative

    In response, local authorities launched the ‘everyone in’ initiative. Ensuring that people sleeping rough, and in accommodation where it was difficult to self-isolate, were safely accommodated across the country. Protecting them and the wider public from the risks of covid-19, it was an enormous challenge supported by the government with £3.2 million in funding and guidance. Local authorities secured hotel rooms and other en-suite accommodation while working with partners to ensure everyone had enough food, medical care and support. 

    Announcing the emergency funding, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, said, “Public safety and protecting the most vulnerable people in society from coronavirus is this government’s top priority. We’re working closely with councils and charities to ensure they have the support they need throughout this period.”

    Protecting the vulnerable

    The outbreak last spring prompted an unprecedented public health response to protect the most vulnerable. Rough sleepers are more likely to have underlying health conditions. They can also face difficulties in following public health advice on self-isolation, social distancing and hygiene. Not only do they face a challenge following the guidance, they also face barriers in accessing public health information and adequate healthcare. Shared facilities used by rough sleepers – such as day centres and night shelters, can increase transmission. 

    The government has allocated over £700 million funding in 2020/21 to support rough sleepers and those at risk. In April 2020, the government had reported that over 90% of known rough sleepers in England had been offered accommodation as a result of the ‘everyone in’ initiative. By November 2020, over 20,000 people had moved into settled accommodation or supported housing. Although, homelessness organisations have reported that a flow of new rough sleepers has continued throughout the pandemic and demand in their services has increased. 

    Local authorities welcomed the additional emergency funding to help them in response to the outbreak. However, the level of funding for homelessness services still remains a concern. The LGA criticised the short-term, fragmented and resource-intensive competitive nature of the current funding. Calling for long-term and sustainable homelessness funding. The availability of suitable move-on accommodation also remains a concern. Stakeholders have called for further measures to prevent homelessness. This includes more housing nationally, improvements to the UK welfare system, protections for private renters and increased investment in social housing. 

    Meanwhile housing as a solution?

    Though simply increasing the amount of new homes won’t solve the issue. There’s a reluctance to move to modern methods of construction, despite the speed and sustainability benefits. But with traditional builds, planning is a particularly long and notoriously difficult process. ‘Meanwhile housing’ provides a temporary solution and much needed homes while an area sits vacant. Meaning families and rough sleepers can live in nicer housing while they wait for more permanent homes.  

    Do you need help building homes in your area? Reach out and see how we can help. Find out more about the homes we’ve built and the councils we’ve helped on our case studies page.

  6. Councils given funding to help with homelessness

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    The Government will provide up to £211.6 million in funding for councils across England to deliver over 2,700 Move-On homes. Their mission is to significantly reduce homelessness and provide support services so they don’t end up back on the street.  A ‘Move-On’ home is temporary accommodation and support. It’s made available to occupants as a stepping stone to prepare rough sleepers for fully independent living. 

    The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has invited councils, who work closely with local stakeholders including charities, local authorities and social housing providers, to submit proposals and bids for the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme (RSAP) up until 2024 and secure funding to bring a reduction in homelessness in their area. 

    Last October they announced funding for local partners to deliver the first year of RSAP. More than 3,000 new ‘Move On’ homes for rough sleepers across the country were approved and backed by a Government investment of more than £150 million. 

    Not only is the scheme for new build homes, it’s also for refurbishment, regeneration, private sector leasing and lease and repair. To ensure these homes remain ‘Move On’ homes, rather than long-term housing, tenancies will only be awarded for a maximum duration of up to two years. This means that they will always be available for the homeless, if necessary, and the support provided will help them move into more permanent homes. 

    Though this is a welcome idea and will help to get people off the streets and into safety. There lies the issue of long-term houses and whether there are enough. We simply aren’t building enough homes per year to meet demand. And despite the planning reforms, it’s still a lengthy process which means it can take between three and five years for a brand new development to be completed. 

    We’re able to provide a high-quality modular solution for both temporary and permanent housing, up to 50 per cent quicker than traditionally built homes. We can build pop-up homes in vacant spots while councils and developers go through the planning process to get people into ‘Meanwhile Homes’. Or we can build a more permanent development to reduce housing waiting lists.

    Do you need help building homes in your area? Reach out and see how we can help.