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Changing the system for people experiencing hidden homelessness

Changing the system for people experiencing hidden homelessness

Changing the system for people experiencing hidden homelessness

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Ellie Radcliffe, Network Development Officer for Justlife, talks to us about creating the Unsupported Temporary Accommodation Group Network.

You may have heard of them – private, short-stay B&Bs and HMOs which seem to be ‘no-go zones’ for even the emergency services. Some are run by landlords who it's hard to develop positive relationships with. Some go unrecognised or unnoticed by local authority housing teams, or are unofficially blacklisted for referrals because of their reputation. Some leave their residents unsupported and uncounted in council statistics, effectively making them invisible – truly hidden homelessness.
Justlife have been working with people living in this type of unsupported temporary accommodation (UTA) for over 10 years. We’ve seen the impact it has on those who live there, and through our research we estimate there are over 75,000 people living in UTA across England. 
To get to the bottom of how to change the system for the better, we have investigated the challenges and opportunities of UTA by working with residents, landlords and councils across the country. 
Through our frontline work and research, we have seen the localised nature of the challenges faced by local authorities, charities, residents and landlords when using, addressing or working in UTA. We also know that national legislation and reform has a significant impact on this type of housing and the people who live in it. These are people stuck in the revolving door of homelessness, have unmet needs and are effectively invisible due to UTA’s hidden nature.
To begin to change the system, we have created the Unsupported Temporary Accommodation Group Network (UTAG:N), a collaborative action network of local, place-based groups across England. Three groups are already active in Manchester, Brighton and Hackney, and have begun to address the problems specific to those areas through local, collaborative working with a diverse group of stakeholders. These include residents, landlords, community and voluntary sector organisations, local government, emergency services and public services (e.g the police, fire service and National Probation Service).
These Action Groups are a space for stakeholders to address the problems they are seeing in their local areas, creating local solutions and strengthening local stakeholder relationships by helping them to find their voices, collaborate and innovate to change the system.
Our plan is for this network of local action groups to feed into a national driving group of leaders and change-makers. They will take the learning and challenges experienced across the country to influence policy and practice affecting UTA at a national level. The combined force of these local and national groups will be able to influence long-term, systemic change, making the lives of those hidden homeless in UTA better and ensuring no household goes unseen and ignored.
This is definitely a challenge, but we hope to collaborate with likeminded people who want to change this system for the better to help make it happen. If you are working with people living in UTA, or recognise that it’s an issue in the areas where you work, please get in contact. You can reach us at UTAGN@justlife.org.uk.


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