Background: The official figure for the number of people sleeping rough on the streets of England is 4,266 of which 1,136 are in London. These figures have increased by 141% and 173% respectively since 2010. It is thought by many that these figures are a considerable underestimate but for the purposes of this proposal the official figure of 4,266 has been used. The majority of deaths among rough sleepers are drug related poisoning, suicide or alcohol related, and the main reason for someone finding themselves living on the streets is relationship breakdown.
Proposal: The problem of rough sleeping is a national one but it is seen locally all over the country. As such it will only be tackled by a determined and coordinated national approach – delivered locally. It is, therefore, proposed that a new project, the Salvus initiative, is launched. This initiative is designed to provide easily accessible homes for rough sleepers – the objective being to eliminate rough sleeping in England within 18 months.
Ethos and guiding principles: The ethos behind the charity and the Salvus initiative is simple. It is acknowledging that everyone needs a home. No one is born sleeping on the streets and no one chooses this as a way of life. Salvus will put the individual first and it will try to understand the needs of people who, for whatever reason, find themselves sleeping rough on the streets, and provide them a safe and secure home. Additionally, and when it is wanted, the Salvus initiative will provide rough sleepers with non-judgemental help and support. There are three guiding principles which form the foundations of the Salvus initiative. • Any person who is sleeping rough will be eligible for an Salvus initiative home. • No one will be turned away and no one will be denied accommodation because of their lifestyle. • Residents can remain in an Salvus home for as long as they need; they will be given every opportunity and assistance to move on but they will not be moved out against their will.
The Houses: The size of the Houses to be built in any one area will be determined by the scale of the rough sleeping problem in that area. In a location such as London where the number of rough sleepers is high, the number of individual units or homes in each House will be significantly higher than in places such as the South West of England. This proposal is based on an average of 20 homes per House. The Houses built will provide the type of accommodation that people sleeping on the streets want and will use. Each home will be large enough to be comfortable (40 sqm) and will be in the form of a studio-apartment each complete with its own kitchen and bathroom. These are homes, not night-shelters or hostels and each resident will have unfettered and unrestricted access to their own particular home. Each House will also include a lounge / recreation area and a private room that can be used by the manager or for meetings.
Services provided: First and foremost, the Houses will provide homes for rough sleepers. Additionally, they will be designed to facilitate the provision of a host of services, all of which will be provided by existing agencies on an as-and-when-they-are-required basis. These include access to a GP and mental health services, drink and drug rehabilitation, employment search and career re-building, and access to move-on accommodation. It is proposed that when residents are ready to move on to other accommodation that they will a priority for social housing.
Management: A new national charity will be established and will be responsible for working with local and regional partners to deliver this initiative. The new charity will draw on the expertise of existing major national charities working in the areas of homelessness and rough sleeping, and it will be responsible for the strategic management of the Salvus initiative. The new charity will establish local alliances or partnerships with interested and involved organisations and these alliances will be responsible for the operational management of the Houses within their area and for implementing national policies. On a day-to-day basis each House will be overseen by a peripatetic manager with the overriding principle being that each House will be managed in a way that is sympathetic to the needs of its residents.
Finance: The capital and revenue costs are based on the creation and ongoing management of 250 Houses of 20 units each. Capital costs: Estimated at £2 million per House or £500 million overall. Revenue costs: Estimated at £200,000 p.a. per House or £50 million p.a. overall.
Funding: Capital: It is proposed that the £2 million average cost of each House is raised through individual and corporate philanthropic sponsorship. This would be the largest such exercise ever carried out. It would also be hugely ambitious but the visionary and innovative concept behind this project coupled to an inventive approach is designed to capture the imagination of the country’s richest people and organisations, such that it can be achieved. Revenue: From the very outset it is proposed that existing charitable organisations working in the area of homelessness and rough sleeping, together with local authorities, will be partners in this project. It is proposed that partner organisations will commit to contributing towards the project’s revenue costs. A significant contribution will come from residents of the homes in the form of housing benefit. It is also proposed that any shortfall is made up from central government funding.