A new approach on homelessness is needed to help people off the streets for good, according to a new report.
The Salvation Army said "amazing progress" had been made in recent months to help the homeless, but warned that the economic consequences of the Covid pandemic will increase rough sleeping and force families into expensive and unsuitable temporary accommodation.
In its report, Future-Proof The Roof, the church and charity called for sustained investment to build on progress made during the pandemic, a new approach to investment in homelessness and rough sleeping, and an increase in the supply of available homes.
Lorrita Johnson, the Salvation Army's newly appointed director of homelessness services, said: "It's not too late to stop a massive increase in homelessness and rough sleeping caused by the current economic downturn.
"Bold government moves like the furlough scheme, temporary protection from eviction and emergency accommodation for rough sleepers saved lives and ensured thousands still had a home.
"However, our report demonstrates that if the Government mirrors the austerity approach it took during the last economic crisis, there will be dire consequences for rough sleepers, private renters and the economy as a whole.
"The only way to prevent a homelessness and rough sleeping crisis is to approach funding for homelessness services in the same way the Government funds physical infrastructure and invest for the future."
Iain Porter of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation commented: "To make sure everyone has a decent, affordable place to call home, the Government must match its ambitious rhetoric on ending rough sleeping with the necessary resources to get the job done.
"Increasing housing benefit levels to the lowest third of local rents was a good first step to protect private renters during the pandemic, and at a minimum the Government should maintain this support to prevent more people being pushed into homelessness by high housing costs."