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Is there a role for business in addressing social issues like homelessness?

Published: 13 June 2024

As we navigate the complexities of our current economic landscape, it is hard to ignore the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, inflation, and rising interest rates on people and vulnerable populations. One potential impact of these challenges is acute housing difficulties that put people at risk of homelessness. Homelessness is not just about rough sleeping it is much broader than that, affecting families, couples as well as young single people. Almost 20% of people seeking help with homelessness are in work.

The risk of homelessness rarely comes out of the blue and small challenges can quickly become a downward spiral from which people experiencing homelessness can find it difficult to recover.  

Businesses are in a unique position to make a difference and encourage positive change whether for employees who may experience housing difficulties or the wider community.

Business and homelessness

Homelessness is not an isolated issue—it affects us all.  When individuals lack stable housing, it can impact their physical and mental health, engagement with work, basic employability, and overall well-being. As business leaders, we can contribute to solutions by understanding the links between our enterprises, housing stress, and homelessness.

Why should businesses get involved?

  • Social responsibility: Many businesses believe they have a responsibility to give back to the communities they operate in. By addressing homelessness, we demonstrate our commitment to social well-being. Where we have staff at risk of housing stress, we may be in a unique position to identify the difficulties early and protect our valued team members from further hardship.
  • Economic impact: Homelessness affects local economies. When individuals are homeless or in housing difficulty, they struggle to maintain engagement or access employment opportunities, leading to lost productivity and potential talent, and reduce economic activity.
  • Innovation:  Businesses can drive innovative solutions. Whether through partnerships with charities, corporate volunteering, affordable housing initiatives, or job training programs, we can create lasting change that projects a positive image about the ways in which we live our values.

Taking action

The Homelessness Task Force of West Midlands Combined Authority has produced a toolkit called Designing out homelessness: Practical steps for business. You can find the toolkit here. The toolkit provides a range of hints and tips, checklists, and case studies that could help your business to get involved and make a difference.

Complete our survey

We invite you to participate in our short survey on the relationship between business and homelessness. This should take no more than 15 minutes. Your insights will inform our strategies moving forward and carries a potential offer of support with your initiatives.  

Complete the survey by following this link.
We recognise that time is of the essence. Therefore, please complete the survey by Friday 19 July to have your voice heard.
Your input matters, and together, we can create positive change. Thank you for your interest in making a difference.