A few years ago, Milton Keynes was dubbed Tent City because so many homeless people were camped out on the streets and underpasses.
But today only four of five individuals are sleeping rough. And this is because they have “declined to engage” with services offered to them, says councillors, who insist they will nevertheless not give up on the stubborn few.
Following this week’s record hot temperatures, MK’s Labour and Lib Dem Progressive Alliance has reaffirmed its commitment that nobody has to sleep on our streets.
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The council has been working on several successful initiatives to tackle rough sleeping, most notably the recent launch of the homeless shelter at the Old Bus Station at CMK.
The building provides overnight accommodation for up to 18 people and moves them on to temporary accommodation.
Services such as drug and alcohol support and employment support are offered at the shelter, along with help from the Winter Night Shelter charity.
Labour Cabinet member Cllr Emily Darlington said: “Just a few years ago, Milton Keynes was being called tent city because of the Conservative government’s appalling record on housing and homelessness. We then pledged to end rough-sleeping, and we have.”
She added: "However, issues surrounding homelessness and rough sleeping are often complex and the council is aware of around four or five individuals who currently don't wish to engage with the homelessness service right now.
"We are doing regular welfare checks to ensure they are okay, and we will not give up on anyone.”
The council also provides support for those at risk of homelessness, including help with private renting.
Councillor Robin Bradburn, Lib Dem deputy leader of the council, said: “Rough sleepers are homeless, but not all homeless people are rough sleepers.
"In MK we have seen a frightening correlation between the number of no-fault evictions, or Section 21 notices, and the number of families presenting themselves as homeless to our temporary accommodation team.
“The Government’s continuous lack of effort to ban these cruel evictions has seen far too many families lose their homes. We welcome the news that these inhumane Section 21s will finally be abolished but it should have come sooner.”