The government has renewed its commitment to ending rough sleeping as far as possible.
Housing minister Iain Wright has announced a new action plan to bring the number of people sleeping rough to as close to zero as practically possible.
Homelessness charities have welcomed the commitment, which renews a stalled pledge made by former prime minister Tony Blair.
Hostels will also be encouraged to offer residents training and education to improve their skills and confidence in order to move into employment and more stable accommodation.
"We need to change all hostels from simply beds for the night into places where an individual can learn skills that will help them back into a stable home and a stable working life," explained Mr Wright.
To free up places in hostels, the government also plans to make available 500 units of private rented accommodation in London to help people move out of hostels and live semi-independently.
The government maintains it has already achieved a major reduction in rough sleepers over the past ten years, with fewer than 500 people now sleeping rough, but accepts it has to do more.
Government support will now target homeless people "entrenched" on the streets, including older drinkers who have been historically difficult to help.
Homeless charity Crisis welcomed the government's recognition of the need for a renewed effort to tackle rough sleeping.
The charity's chief executive Leslie Morphy said: "The time is overdue to put rough sleeping to bed for good.
"Last week all three London mayoral candidates committed to ending rough sleeping in the capital by 2012. Crisis now calls on the government to set a similarly ambitious target for the country as a whole."