In the face of a rapidly escalating rural homelessness crisis, a powerful new coalition is launching today. The 'Rural Homelessness Counts Coalition' is a collective of more than 20 leading charities and housing associations and is set to spearhead a nationwide response to the growing issue of rural homelessness in England.
The formation of this coalition is a direct response to the alarming findings of a comprehensive research study conducted by the Universities of Kent and Southampton, along with a team of rural advocates and homelessness experts. The study revealed a 24% increase in official government rough sleeping numbers in rural areas within a single year. It also found that 91% of rural respondents have witnessed a rise in homelessness over the past five years. Furthermore, the research identified a 65% funding gap in per capita spending on the homelessness prevention grant in rural areas compared to urban areas. These startling statistics underscore the severity of the issue and the urgent need for action.
As Rural Housing Week 2023 commences, the 'Rural Homelessness Counts Coalition' is being launched to confront this often overlooked and misunderstood issue. The coalition, which includes RSN, English Rural, The National Housing Federation, and CPRE, is committed to five key principles:
These principles guide the coalition's mission to end rural homelessness through evidence-based policy and practice.
RSN’s Chief Executive, Kerry Booth, says there is a lot of work to be done:
“The findings of this new research shows that there is a rapidly growing problem. The Cost of Living crisis continues to escalate the issue of homelessness in rural areas but, together, we can make a difference.”
Rory Weal, the Strategic Policy Lead at English Rural, says rural areas have specific needs and challenges which must be addressed:
“These new figures underscore the unacceptable rates of homelessness in our communities. The Launch of the ‘Rural Homelessness Counts Coalition’ marks a significant step forward in our fight against rural homelessness. This coalition brings together a diverse group of organisations committed to shining a light on this hidden crisis and working towards sustainable solutions. It’s time we give rural homelessness the attention it deserves.”
The 'Rural Homelessness Counts Coalition' aims to bring the hidden crisis of rural homelessness to the forefront of public and policy attention. Its key objectives include raising awareness, developing and advocating for effective strategies to tackle the issue, and encouraging the adoption of evidence-based best practices in rural communities. The coalition also seeks to foster partnerships with local authorities, rural housing associations, and other stakeholders to address the unique challenges of rural homelessness and work towards a future where everyone has a place to call home.
Dr Carin Tunåker, one of the leading researchers responsible for the rural homelessness report, is supporting the coalition:
“Our research has shown that rural homelessness is a real and growing problem that requires urgent attention. The ‘Rural Homelessness Counts Coalition’ represents an innovative and exciting opportunity to address this issue. By working together, we can ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, has access to a safe, affordable home.”
The launch of the 'Rural Homelessness Counts Coalition' during Rural Housing Week 2023 underscores the importance of addressing rural homelessness as part of the broader effort to ensure affordable, accessible housing for all. The coalition says it “will strive to ensure that the voices of those experiencing rural homelessness are heard and that effective solutions are implemented to address this pressing issue”.
Find out more about 'Rural Homelessness Counts Coalition', its mission, and how to get involved.
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