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News in Brief 142: Feb – Mar 2023

February 01 2023

Our bi-monthly round-up of what‘s been happening...
By Bronagh Sheridan

America first

More from England’s ghost of Christmas future, aka the United States of America. A raft of anti-homeless laws have come into effect in the past year, across numerous states. Take Missouri, where a new state law has seen people sleeping rough in public parks or under city highways fined up to $750, even facing up to 15 days in prison for multiple offences. The law took effect on 1 January. Meanwhile, New York mayor Eric Adams banned homeless people from sleeping on the city’s subway system and using the trains all night. In November last year, authorities in Chicago abruptly ordered the removal of donated tents for street cleaning, according to the Guardian.

Bed bath & beyond

Haringey’s Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, the council’s watchdog, has ordered the council to pay £4,500 in compensation to a homeless woman and her young child. The family spent almost two years in accommodation without basic bathing facilities, reports This is Local London. Haringey Council accepted the ombudsman’s decision in January, with a spokesperson apologising for the council’s “poor standard of service.” The poor standards included an unusable and dangerous bath, with a review by the council finding the property unsuitable. Soon afterwards the council offered the family a private tenancy, before withdrawing the offer because it was too expensive.

Homeless World Cup
© Homeless World Cup
The annual Homeless World Cup football tournament will be held in Sacramento, the State capital of California this July. It’s the first time since 2019 that the tournament has been held, with the previous three editions cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The international tournament features teams of people who are homeless or have experienced homelessness. There are more than 70 member countries of the Homeless World Cup, and the 2023 tournament represents the first time the tournament has been held in the United States.

First anniversary

A heartwarming story courtesy of the Manchester Evening News in January, reporting on the anniversary of former rough sleeper Stephen Agnew moving into secure accommodation after 30 years of homelessness. Agnew first experienced homelessness aged just 10-years-old, and had lived the entirety of his adult life homeless prior to getting his own flat at the start of 2022. A number of groups and initiatives working in Manchester helped Agnew find a home. He first got involved with Invisible Cities, a social enterprise working with homeless people to train them as tour guides in the cities they have experienced homelessness in. Later, Greater Manchester Housing First found Agnew eligible for a studio flat in Blackley, where he has lived since January 2022.
- Learn more about Invisible Cities on its website:

Veteran pledge

The government has come up with a new strategy to end rough sleeping among military veterans by the end of 2023. Johnny Mercer, the minister for veterans affairs, announced £8.8m in funding for supported housing places for ex-armed forces in England. The childishly named Operation Fortitude commenced in December 2022, with the Guardian noting a launch event hosted by Mercer and PM Rishi Sunak and attended by homeless veterans. Between July and September 2022, 131 military veterans were counted sleeping rough in London. The Pavement hopes Mercer et al possess the fortitude to deliver on their promise to end rough sleeping among veterans this year.

Watford watch

A scheme to support homeless people in Watford during the Covid-19 pandemic has brought the total number of people sleeping rough in the town down from 83 in March 2020, to 12 in December 2022. The five-step Dynamic Pathway to Independence (DPI) scheme was created by the YMCA in the Hertfordshire town. The scheme is delivered entirely in the YMCA’s Charter House, with each floor of the 10-storey building dedicated to different stages of the scheme. A wide range of experts, including health and housing, are on-site to support people as they move through each floor. The government has committed a further £1.6m in funding to support the scheme through to 2025.

Statue news

Readers passing by King’s Cross station or Birmingham’s Bullring in December may have spotted a giant sculpture depicting a homeless man. The sculpture stood at 14ft and was commissioned by Crisis to raise awareness of homelessness over the holidays. The work was created by Sophie de Oliveira Barata, who combined the facial features of 17 people who were experiencing homelessness and have been supported by Crisis for the details of the sculpture’s face.

The One Fesstival of Homeless Arts

© One Festival of Homeless Arts
The One Festival of Homeless Arts was held in January, featuring art created by people with no fixed abode, precariously sheltered or who have experience of homelessness. The festival, held in London between 16–29 January, involved two weeks of workshops before an exhibition of new works on 28–29 January. Among other practices, workshops included art, music, poetry and photography.

Outside in

LGBTQ Switchboard has opened Brighton's first LGBTIQ+ night shelter. The charity opened the new service on 23 January. LGBTQ Switchboard is working with The Outside Project and Stonewall Housing to run the new service, which is initially a 10-week pilot.
Find out more on the website:


An investigation by the Sunday Mail in January revealed that as many as 50 people were left stranded sleeping in cars, after being evicted from homeless accommodation in Edinburgh. The former residents of the Almond Lodge House Hotel are all migrants from Romania. The majority were told to leave the hotel after financial support for them ran out. Many have no recourse to public funds. A spokesperson for the refugee and migrants’ charity Positive Action in Housing said: “We need to treat this as an emergency and treat those affected like human beings instead of political footballs.”

Xmas blues

There were 43,000 people experiencing homelessness in Scotland on 25 December 2021. The figures were obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats through a Freedom of Information request sent to local councils. The figure represents the total number of lone homelessness applications on that day, so isn’t a true reflection of the number of people experiencing homelessness or sleeping rough in Scotland. Edinburgh had the highest number of homelessness applications among local authorities, with 5,470 open applications, as reported by Scottish Housing News.

See it, say it

A charity group based in Glasgow warns domestic abuse is leading to an increase in hidden homelessness for women and children in the city. SAY Women, a charity set up in 1991 to provide semi-supported accommodation and emotional support for young women aged 16 to 25 who are survivors of sexual abuse or rape, told STV News that domestic abuse is the main cause of women’s homelessness in Scotland. A spokesperson for the charity warned “evidence indicates that though men are over-represented in homeless statistics, women’s homelessness is more likely to be ‘hidden’ and therefore over-looked.”
- Learn more about SAY Women on its website:

Legal issues

Glasgow City Council breached legal safeguards for homeless people more than 2,000 times during an 11-month snapshot time-frame in 2022. The council fell short of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order – which sets out basic standards accommodation has to meet to be suitable for use. Residents at two hotels in the city used for temporary accommodation launched a series of complaints, labelling the accommodation “inhumane”. Other hotels were called “hellholes”. The council points to a low supply of accommodation deemed fit for long-term living, arguing it has had to disregard the law to house homeless people.