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Prince William’s 5-Year Plan To Abolish Homelessness in UK Starts Today/

Photo credit: Kensington Palace. Prince William is launching the Homewards initiative with a plan to eliminate homelessness in the UK within 5 years by finding people permanent homes.

By Editor-June 27th, 2023.

The Prince of Wales has vowed to put his name to a major new program to reduce and eliminate homelessness in the UK.

Homewards is an ambitious program that aims to start with six pilot project locations and to end homelessness within 5 years.

The Prince, who is going to tour all six areas on Monday, hopes that the pilot projects will create blueprints that can be followed by any town or city, eventually ensuring that homelessness in the UK becomes “rare, brief, and unrepeated”.

He aims to follow in the footsteps of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who was patron of homelessness charity Centrepoint and regularly helped people living on the streets, as well as build his own legacy.

Ahead of the launch, the Prince said: “In a modern and progressive society, everyone should have a safe and secure home, be treated with dignity and given the support they need.

“Through Homewards, I want to make this a reality and over the next five years give people across the UK hope that homelessness can be prevented when we collaborate.”

Prince William first visited a homeless shelter in December 1993, aged 11, when Diana took him and Prince Harry to The Passage, a charity supporting people who are newly homeless.

Homewards marks his first major announcement as Prince of Wales, and says that this will be a priority for the rest of his life.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said the Prince had been involved in “every step” of its development over the last two years and was intimately involved in driving it forward.

Homewards will use the Royal Foundation’s convening power to bring charities, local authorities and social services together to create “systemic change” and focus on preventing homelessness, rather than placing people in temporary accommodation.

The focus, based on a model adapted from Finland,  will be on providing permanent homes, meaning that each location will be expected to deliver an innovative housing project. The Royal Foundation will pump an initial £500,000 seed funding into each area.

It will help create local coalitions of those already working on the ground to boost understanding of specific issues and how to overcome them, providing access to experts and, crucially, to financial backers to unlock new ideas and drive further investment.

The foundation will also appoint a local leader in each area who will bring together all those pivotal to forcing change, from local authorities to prisons, schools and housing associations.

They will each deliver a tailored plan to prevent homelessness in their area, based on their own unique needs.

Among those on board are 16 leading charities as well as support from beyond the sector, from landowners and local housing associations to major retailers.

The Prince believes that by bringing organisations together to collectively address local challenges, homelessness can be prevented.

In a short video about the programme, released by Kensington Palace on Monday, the Prince states that he is launching Homewards “to show that it is possible to end homelessness” in the UK.

Such an approach has never before been adopted in the UK, where local authorities spend billions of pounds keeping homeless people in temporary accommodation and do not have the capacity to address the broader issues.

Experts say that for decades, homelessness has been “managed” rather than prevented, with victims trapped in a cycle and the problem exacerbated by a severe lack of social housing.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Prince William said: “I am fortunate to have seen first-hand the tireless work of people and organisations across the sector, the tangible impact their efforts can have and what can be done when communities are able to focus on preventing homelessness, rather than managing it.

“It’s a big task, but I firmly believe that by working together it is possible to make homelessness rare, brief, and unrepeated and I am very much looking forward to working with our six locations to make our ambition a reality.”

The Royal Foundation has taken inspiration from Finland, which has all but erased homelessness with its hugely successful Housing First policy that prioritises getting people into their own homes before bringing together other organisations to address the broader issues like mental illness and drug addiction.

The overwhelming response to the Everyone In scheme launched during the Covid-19 pandemic, a successful campaign to house all homeless people in hotels and shelters, also proved that sweeping change could be achieved and is said to have been the catalyst that propelled the Prince to act.

Some voices in the UK are critical, saying that Prince William is getting dangerously close to being involved in politics, and there is no doubt that the politics of homelessness are complex, ranging from issues of mental illness and drug addiction to resistance to local government building permits for low-income housing, but generally the initiative has been cautiously welcomed  as there is not much doubt that a growing homeless population in comtemporary Britain is a real concern.

However another concern might be that it will look bad for Prince William if the initiative is not successful. But if anyone can use their name effectively to build support, it might be Prince William.

Sources: BBC, AP, Daily Telegraph, Youtube.