The Labour MP aiming to be elected metro mayor in Liverpool has followed in the footsteps of friend and ally Andy Burnham by putting action on homelessness at the heart of his campaign.
Steve Rotheram, said the major housing associations locally had agreed to work with him in the project in which he will use “clearing houses” to provide accommodation for rough sleepers.
Rotheram, the Walton MP who has served as an aide to Jeremy Corbyn, is odds-on to be elected mayor of Liverpool city region when the vote is held in May.
Today he set out plans to tackle homelessness”head-on” and highlighted proposals by shadow housing secretary John Healey to identify 35 homes in the region to be part of the project.
“The numbers of rough sleepers fell dramatically under the last Labour government, with only 464-recorded rough sleepers in 2010 as a result of various Labour initiatives,” Rotheram said.
“The major housing providers in the Liverpool city region have agreed to work with me, if I’m elected in May 2017, to help facilitate homes dedicated to accommodating street sleepers, together with the wrap-around support also needed to solve the problem.
“But in the city region, the problem is increasing despite the excellent work by local authorities and charities. The problem isn’t going away and that is why I want to tackle homelessness head-on and ensure nobody in our region has to spend an evening outdoors. This initiative can only help to attempt to alleviate the issue.”
Rotheram said that the initiative, which would see a number of homes ring-fenced for use, would create a “one stop shop’” for housing providers to help rough sleepers.
The number of people who are sleeping rough has risen since 2010 following key Tory reforms such as curbs on benefits and the introduction of the hated bedroom tax but Labour has pledged to end the “national shame” of homelessness.
Last week Burnham, Labour’s candidate in Greater Manchester, vowed to give away at least 15 per cent of the metro mayor’s salary to fund a new scheme to tackle homelessness.
Today Rotheram’s plan won broad support from a Liverpool housing association boss.
“Housing associations are united by a shared ambition – to ensure everyone in the Liverpool city region has the opportunity to live in a quality home that they can afford,” said Barbara Spicer, chief executive of Plus Dane Housing and chair of Liverpool city region housing association group, who said she also hopes to speak to the other mayoral candidates.