Published Wednesday, 13th June 2018
Halving the number of rough sleepers and nearly £200,000 investment in our homelessness prevention work will be among the five priorities for the council’s new, five-year homelessness strategy.
Preventing Homelessness Together 2018-23 will be discussed by senior councillors on 21 June. It states a continued commitment to early help and prevention and outlines the council’s response to recent legislation.
A £193,555 DCLG grant will allow additional outreach support and accommodation for rough sleepers with complex needs. This aims to persuade more off the streets and into our hostels and resettlement programmes which lead to safer more stable lives.
Less visible are homeless households. Our early advice and support meant that in 2017/18, just 90 households became statutorily homeless. Currently 49 households are in temporary accommodation. This is fewer than the council’s target and fewer than last year and is the lowest number of homeless households in York in the last 15 years.
To further lower instances of rough sleeping and homelessness, the new strategy states five key aims. These are to:
- reduce rough sleeping by 50 per cent by 2022 and eliminating rough sleeping by 2027, as required by new national targets
- prevent homelessness by further improving the information and services provided in line with the Homeless Reduction Act 2017
- ensure that there is accommodation available to people who are homeless
- ensure that there is support available to people that are homeless
- maintain and develop partnership working and strategic direction.
While City of York Council’s homelessness team has won the government ‘Gold Standard’ award’ – only the third local authority in the country to do so – we know that there is always more to do.
A priority is to address the five aims in a number of ways. These include:
- investigating how we can expand emergency bed provision
- exploring the provision of a day centre with positive activities for customers to help themaccess and/or continue their independent living
- the full introduction of Personal Housing Plans
- ensuring a comprehensive resettlement programme, including for people seeking advice under the Homeless Reduction Act 2017
- continuing to develop clear housing pathways for each client group such as those leaving prison, hospital or social care, and which includes appropriate accommodation and support.
- continuing to develop our approach for those with more complex needs, especially those with mental health issues
- tackling heath issues with partners.
Cllr Helen Douglas, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods at City of York Council, said: “Our continued focus on prevention is imperative. With our new duties under the Homeless Reduction Act and by working together to provide advice, support and help, we aim to continue preventing homelessness whenever we can.
“In addition, we recognise the problems of rough sleeping in York. We’ve identified actions to help tackle this by working in more flexible ways, persuading more into our hostels and working with our resettlement services where they learn the skills to retain a tenancy of their own and flourish in it.”
Barrie Stephenson, chair of York Homelessness Forum, said: “Long term strategic solutions lie with all of us working together. Many partners have been involved in the production of this five-year plan to reduce homelessness.
“While public attitudes to homelessness and rough sleeping often blame both the choices of the individuals or the lack of provision by the council, evidence shows two trends are largely responsible; a shortage of affordable housing and the impact of welfare reforms. There is much to do.”