Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham launches homelessness fund
New Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has launched a fund to tackle homelessness and has pledged 15% of his £110,000 salary towards it.
Mr Burnham, who has already contributed £1,375, said he wanted to end "the scandal" of rough sleeping across the city region's 10 boroughs by 2020.
The former Labour MP for Leigh was elected on Friday with 63% of the vote.
"We all have a duty," Mr Burnham said, to ensure "every Greater Mancunian has a stable place to call home".
While acknowledging his 2020 target was "quite ambitious", he said his appeal was "urgent - people need our help right now".
One rough sleeper in Manchester city centre told the BBC: "I sleep outside the theatre. It's not something I'm used to, I've always been a worker, I've worked for 25 years."
When asked what he thought of the fund's aims to end rough sleeping by 2020, he said: "We'll see. The only thing I can do is live in hope."
The fund will be set up as a community foundation, with local organisations able to bid for grants.
In its first few hours, a fundraising page raised more than £3,000.
Mr Burnham said that while Greater Manchester had experienced economic growth in recent years, it had also seen "a growing inequality which damages us all".
He added: "Whilst the city centre's skyline is filled with cranes, our streets should not be crowded with people who have no roof over their head.
"Rough sleeping and homelessness are not inevitable consequences of a 21st Century economy."
The former health secretary said the homelessness fund aimed to support schemes such as:
- Bringing empty properties back in to use
- Building specialised supported accommodation for young people with access to education, volunteering and employment opportunities
- Expanding mental health and rehabilitation programmes
Mr Burnham appealed on the fundraising page: "I will provide leadership, but I need your help."
He urged people to donate a proportion of their own salary, a one-off amount, or to give furniture, building space, or their skills and expertise.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, the charity chosen to help set up the fund, said there were "solutions" to rising homelessness and Crisis would use its knowledge and experience to make sure donations were used effectively.
Mark McPherson, director at Homeless Link, said: "While we don't believe people should be made to feel obliged to make personal donations in order to solve homelessness, this pledge from Andy shows how seriously he takes the issue...
"Ending rough sleeping, however, requires many different solutions and the key will be to ensure that these donations, alongside public money, are used to best effect."