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Over eighty housing professionals convened at the National Union of Teachers in central London on 2nd November to hear from the Act’s sponsor, Bob Blackman, MP and explore how the Homelessness Reduction Act will impact the nation and local housing services.

The annual conference marking Home Connections’ 15th Anniversary brought together global leaders, key stakeholders and like-minded professionals across the housing sector to give them the momentum they need to strategically navigate the challenges of today’s most significant social housing reform. Primarily focusing on how to best leverage new opportunities to benefit those struggling with the detrimental effects of homelessness.

Bob Blackman MP, sponsor of the Homelessness Reduction Act, delivered the keynote speech, which highlighted the HRA’s significance stating it is the longest, most substantial and well funded Private Member’s Bill in UK history. Mr Blackman said: My legislation is as much about a culture change in councils, away from crisis response, towards prevention strategies and early intervention, as is it is about long term savings. I believe frontline staff want to work to help people who are at risk of homelessness or who are already suffering and I want to empower them to feel able to do everything possible, rather than to find themselves rationing services. It’s also about ensuring that public organisations, like NHS hospitals or prisons, have a duty to refer someone as well when someone is either homeless or being released into a situation where homelessness is likely. This is a great chance for councils to innovate and make a real difference to people’s lives.”

The full-day conference taught attendees how to navigate the complex HRA roadmap to legal compliance by using cutting-edge HOPE software, utilizing H-CLIC , and risk mitigation techniques. The forum featured 5 speeches from key influencers, 4 interactive workshops, panel discussions, and unveiled fascinating new research designed to illuminate the public’s attitude toward homelessness, housing and mobility.

Based on the thought-provoking 2017 UK Attitudes to Housing, Homelessness and Mobility study debated at the conference, 58% of 2,077 UK adults felt there was not a significant amount of sustainable housing being built and a nearly 6 in ten people believed the private rental sector should be utilized for social housing tenants suffering from the housing shortage.

Global homelessness expert and chief executive officer of Y-Foundation, Juha Kaakinen, explained how Finland systematically cured it’s housing crisis using the Housing First Model. Making Finland the only country in the EU not facing a serious homelessness quandary.

Juha explained: ‘Even without any further pilots, experiments or evaluations we know that Housing First is working, but you can get the real benefits of it only if it is implemented as a national policy. Homelessness can be ended, but only permanent housing is a sustainable solution which means that the existing hostel and shelter system for temporary accommodation has to be radically changed. Ending homelessness requires an unforeseen collaboration and partnership of the organizations working in the field. And finally, it goes without saying that affordable social housing is the best solution both for the prevention and ending of homelessness.’

Key housing influencers demonstrated how to best to rise to the challenges posed by the HRA. Ninesh Muthiah, CEO of Home Connections revealed that the cutting-edge HOPE software will play a pivotal role in facilitating local government’s allocation of social housing. Shadow Housing Minister, Melanie Onn MP shared her inspirational personal account of overcoming homelessness and Guardian columnist, Dawn Foster shed light on the severity Britain’s current social housing landscape.

Muthiah said: “This conference was an essential signpost for anyone involved in reducing homelessness. Delegates from the highest levels in the housing sector joined front line teams to learn more how to implement this complex and potentially life-changing piece of legislation. I am proud that we are playing our part to help local authorities to navigate the Act and providing low cost software solutions which will smooth the way for caseload work”.

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