Green Party members have voted to affirm housing as a basic human right at its Bournemouth conference.
Conference voted to explore innovative ways to tackle homelessness, recognising that many rough sleepers have multiple needs.
The “Housing First” approach provides people experiencing homelessness with accommodation as quickly as possible – and then provides the services they need such as treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues.
The housing charity Shelter states that when the “chaos of homelessness” is removed from a person’s life, “clinical and social stabilisation occur faster and are more enduring”.
The US state of Utah, an implementer of the strategy, has seen a 91 per cent reduction in people living on the streets who have been there for more than a year. The state has also reduced its overall spending on its strategy, citing an $11,000 yearly cost per person to provide an apartment and social work as opposed to previous costs of $17,000 a year for hospital visits and imprisonment.
Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett said:
“Adopting a Housing First approach to homelessness puts the needs of those experiencing homelessness first and we’re encouraged by the success of the policy in the United States.”
“We know that this government doesn’t have a handle on homelessness in England. The number of homeless people here has risen by 12 per cent to 67,000, a shameful figure and I’m proud that our party is exploring radical ways to tackle this.”
“Too many offers of housing exlude the most vulnerable – we need to cater for all.
“Our conference decides policy and the direction of our party. We’re fortunate that we have many party members with a passion for and interest in diverse issues and these bold proposals will help us to build on this year’s successes.”