Anyone who’s lived in Manchester over the past decade will have seen the sad reality of homelessness in the city-region. It’s a reality that has seen the sheltered doorways from Piccadilly Gardens to Deansgate provide refuge to Manchester’s most unfortunate – and one that the city has been committed to tackling for a number of years now.
Joining 12 other ‘Vanguard Cities’ committed to either ending or reducing street homelessness by December 2020, a new report undertaken by Heriot-Watt University shows that Greater Manchester achieved an impressive 52% reduction against baseline, the largest reduction in street homelessness among the 13 cities. Adelaide, Glasgow, Montevideo, Santiago, Sydney and Tshwane also achieved reductions.
Greater Manchester set the most ambitious target of the bunch, aiming to end ‘all street homelessness’ by December 2020. Unfortunately, this target was not met, however, initiatives brought into play during the COVID pandemic helped the city to accelerate its success.
Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick said of the findings: “While there are clear country-specific challenges that need to be overcome, this first global initiative on tackling street homelessness has highlighted the need to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach, towards more specialised interventions that target specific subgroups. Appropriate services for women, children, older people and other vulnerable groups, as well as culturally sensitive responses to Indigenous people and other groups affected by racial and associated forms of prejudice are essential.
“The overwhelming emphasis on emergency interventions was clear in our findings, with support applied only when people are already in crisis, rather than placing greater focus on preventative models. Even predictable pathways into street homelessness from institutions like prisons and hospitals have seldom attracted concerted prevention efforts”
Baroness Louise Casey, Chair of the Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH) added: “Each global city demonstrated the importance of assertive outreach services and decent emergency accommodation, coupled with rapid access to long-term housing in settled communities. This report highlights that we now need to move away from inhumane and undignified communal shelters and reject exclusionary conditionality thresholds including unnecessary ID requirements, but countries need more support to facilitate this move. A concerted effort to identify and prevent key routes onto the streets is needed.”