Letter: Hostel cuts mean more sleeping rough

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Sir: I worked for Westminster City Council's homeless persons unit in the early Eighties when St Mungo's hostel was moved on from its building in the old Charing Cross hospital in the Strand.

For weeks, we went through the motions interviewing hundreds of residents to assess their 'rehousability', a purely cosmetic exercise because not more than a handful were ever offered permanent accommodation. The vast majority were deemed to be 'unrehousable' under the terms of the (then) 1977 Homeless Persons Act. When St Mungo's closed, many of the residents went back to sleeping rough.

Now, 10 years later, I read that St Mungo's is to be moved on again because the Government is cutting pounds 10m from the Sleeping Rough Initiative. It sounds like a good idea to channel money into permanent housing for those that need it but the Government continues to refuse to acknowledge that there are many people in our society whose housing problem is not solved by putting them in a council flat somewhere and forgetting about them.

Your article today ('Benevolent sanctuary for homeless faces grim future') highlights one resident who is looking forward to getting his own housing association flat soon. But how many of the other residents will end up sleeping on the streets again because they will not qualify for a flat or are unable to cope with independent living? The Government, by ending funding, will in effect be making them homeless again.

Yours sincerely,




20 January