Letter: Hostel cuts mean more sleeping rough

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Government's plans to cut by one-third the number of hostels for homeless people in London by March 1994 is a profound shock (report, 19 January). For people who are both old and homeless, the consequences are likely to be severe.

In 1991 our report Older Homeless People in London showed that 30 per cent of London's homeless people were aged more than 50. Many were very old and frail, and living permanently in hostels for lack of alternatives. There is no evidence to suggest that this situation has changed significantly, because housing without support cannot meet their needs.

The Sleeping Rough Initiative does not cater for these very vulnerable people. It has been left to hostels to cope as best they can, a task that they have performed with skill and commitment, but also with great regret at the substantial limitations on what they are able to provide.

We and others continue to work for changes in policy that will provide the permanent housing, care and support that homeless old people need. In the meantime, hostel closures will mean that many will lose the only 'home' they have, or are likely to have under present arrangements, and will be forced to live on the streets.

Yours faithfully,

PAULA JONES

Director

Age Concern Greater London

London, SE5

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