Hope for rough sleepers as pilot programme begins | UK News
Carl Parker spends his nights sleeping in a car park and his days busking on the streets of Birmingham.
The 44-year-old endured the heavy snowfall last winter and spring while sleeping rough so the freezing temperatures of the last week were familiar.
“I just have to make sure I’ve got enough blankets to keep warm,” he said.
He left home when he was a teenager and chooses not to live in hostels or emergency accommodation because he wants to stay away from alcohol.
He said: “My mum kicked me out when I was 16.
“I’ve been in and out of hostels, I’ve had a few jobs, I had a girlfriend but she passed away.”
“I did hit the alcohol when I first became homeless.
“I’ve been clean from the alcohol five years.
“I just want a place so I can get a job and feel normal.”
He has been speaking to outreach workers because he is an ideal candidate for a new scheme that aims to give rough sleepers a home of their own.
Housing First is being piloted in Liverpool, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, with £28m of government funding being shared across the three areas.
Birmingham was the first city to house rough sleepers under the scheme and properties have been found for 41 people.
Birmingham City Council has been working with housing associations and charities and freeing up some council houses.
Once people are given their own home they receive support ranging from help with benefits to help tackling drug or alcohol abuse, or mental health issues.
Jim Crawshaw from Birmingham City Council said the objective is not just to give people a home but to keep them there.
“Housing First is for entrenched rough sleepers, people who have been on the streets for a number of years,” he said.
“They may have been in temporary accommodation but mainly sleeping on the streets.”
Rough sleepers are people who sleep in the open air – on the streets or in parks, for example. Homelessness means anyone without a home, which could include people living in temporary accommodation or “sofa surfing”.