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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 September 2005, 03:39 GMT 04:39 UK
Housing policy 'failing homeless'
Homeless person on street
Homeless people found it difficult to move on, the Salvation Army said
The government's housing policy is failing to help homeless people find accommodation outside hostels, a Salvation Army report says.

The Christian charity said homelessness would continue to be a "blight" on society unless policies were changed.

It said many people ready to move from hostels often had to wait months.

The government said it was not ignoring social housing, and over the next three years the amount of new social housing being built would increase by 50%.

The Salvation Army also criticised the use of Asbos and the making of begging a recordable offence.

The Salvation Army said this burdened "already vulnerable people with a criminal record."

Living in a hostel for the rest of your life is not the best option for anyone
Bill Cochrane
Salvation Army

The delay in finding appropriate housing meant homeless people were "effectively 'bed-blocking' spaces in hostels for vulnerable homeless people still on the streets".

Bill Cochrane of the Salvation Army said: "The government has done a tremendous amount to get homeless people off the streets, but about half of the people living in Salvation Army hostels have now nowhere to move on to.

"The Salvation Army wants people not just to be taken off the street, but we want to help them to become valuable, productive members of society.

"So we want them to be able to move on and live independently, earn a living, get a job, and live like full members of the community.

"Living in a hostel for the rest of your life is not the best option for anyone."

It called on the government to "find imaginative ways to ensure people who are currently homeless have access to affordable housing".

Improvements needed

It also wants a review of the impact of recent legislation on the ability of homeless people to receive the help they need, saying that "legislation which criminalises street homelessness has echoes of the Vagrancy Acts and Poor Laws of the 1600s".

Improvements to responses to substance misuse, rough sleeping and homelessness services across the country were also needed.

"A lot of the people left in streets are suffering from a whole range of issues, mental illness, addiction problems, and there is no concerted effort , no strategic plan to deal with that continuing problem," Mr Cochrane said.

Homeless laws 'fail communities'
12 Sep 05 |  Scotland

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