Motion 18 and amendments
Congress notes that during the pandemic, the government found the wherewithal and resources to house the majority of homeless people previously sleeping on the streets to try to keep them safe from Covid-19.
Congress is aware that homeless people sleeping on the streets face a large number of dangers and threats in ‘normal’ times, not just when there is a deadly pandemic, ranging from violence and abuse to hypothermia. Congress further notes the amount of vulnerable former servicemen and women who end up homeless after leaving the armed forces.
Congress believes that it is completely unacceptable for society to allow people to remain destitute and without housing. Congress further notes that the UK has a chronic shortage of housing, with many families living in cramped and unsuitable conditions due to the lack of available social rent and truly affordable family homes, and young people struggling to get on by paying exorbitant rents but lacking the savings to buy a property.
Housing-first policies, such as those famously in place in Finland, have seen people able to rebuild their lives from homelessness to holding down jobs and participating in the community. It is clear that living in suitable housing underpins success in all aspects of life.
Congress therefore calls on the General Council to:
i. campaign for a full programme of social rent and truly affordable home building, with safeguards to ensure that those in need of housing can access these homes
ii. advocate for stringent laws against offshore property ownership and the kind of investment purchasing which results in hundreds of homes sitting empty
iii. lobby the government to introduce a housing first policy for England to provide homeless people with a stable home from which to rebuild their lives during and after the pandemic
iv. lobby the government to extend the Everyone In scheme, guaranteeing funding for and removing legal barriers to accessing emergency accommodation
v. lobby the government to increase housing benefit to the level of average rents and prevent evictions and cancel arrears for renters who have lost income due to coronavirus
vi. lobby the government to support veterans by ensuring housing support for veterans is properly resourced
vii. call for protections on the supply of land, the prevention of public land sales, together with taxes on land and powers to facilitate compulsory purchase to prevent land banking by private developers
viii. argue for guarantees on the security of tenure for private tenants and legislation that implements rent controls.
Supporters: Communication Workers Union; Community; Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association