Helping the homeless

A new five-year Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Strategy to help people find ways of getting off living on the city’s streets is going to be discussed by B&NES at next week’s cabinet meeting.

It will look at ways to prevent and reduce homelessness through working in partnership with a range of organisations from the NHS to private landlords.

The draft strategy, which has recently been consulted on with the Homelessness Partnership, will be discussed by cabinet on Thursday 7 November.  Comments are being looked at for consideration by cabinet in December.

The council says the strategy is based on four key themes:

  • Preventing homelessness
  • Supporting vulnerable households
  • Reducing rough sleeping
  • Increasing accommodation options

Councillor Tim Ball, cabinet member for Housing, Planning and Economic Development, said: “We aim to end rough sleeping and homelessness in Bath and North East Somerset, but it’s a huge challenge. There are many complex reasons why people become homeless, and we need to work to prevent these underlying causes.  We also need tackle the shortage of affordable housing and the lack of private rented accommodation affordable to people on welfare benefits. This strategy aims to do just that.”

The latest statutory count carried out in November 2018 revealed there were 20 rough sleepers in B&NES. Currently there are 30 homeless households in temporary accommodation across the district.

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The new strategy aims to reduce these numbers by:

Increasing access to the private rented sector:

  • Encouraging landlords and estate/letting agents to work with the council

Improving the Temporary Accommodation offer and reducing the duration of all stays, particularly in B&Bs:

  • Moving people on to long term housing more quickly
  • Reducing the use of out of area B&B placements

Improving the likelihood of successful tenancies:

  • Reducing the number of evictions
  • Improving awareness of work and training opportunities

Improving the understanding of the pathway into and through homelessness services:

  • Collecting improved data with trends and outcomes reported quarterly to the Homelessness Partnership

Identifying new funding sources to ensure new rough sleeper provision continues:

  • Working closely with the CCG and Public Health to identify funding opportunities

Improving the use of supported housing:

  • Encouraging providers to collaborate on moves between supported housing to create vacancies at Manvers St Hostel

Agreeing a partnership approach to working with rough sleepers unable to access public funds:

  • Working with regional/national/government bodies to identify best practice.
  • Agreeing criteria for access to services that ensures best use of resources

Continuing to develop affordable housing that meets the needs of homeless people:

  • Investigating the purchase of empty properties for use as social housing

Working with service users and providers to identify creative prevention approaches to reduce repeat homelessness rates:

  • Establishing new service user feedback methods that enable real change
  • Improving early warning mechanisms that improve partnerships between accommodation and support providers
  • Working with criminal justice partners to deliver on national policy for offenders on release.

Over the past twelve months the council has received funding through the Government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative to provide additional services for people who are homeless in addition to those already provided by the authority and voluntary agencies.

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These new services include:

  • Safesleep, 20 additional beds for singles and couples during the winter
  • Housing First, permanent accommodation for people with complex needs
  • A dedicated mental health worker placed within the outreach team
  • A rapid response service to move individuals off the street and reconnect with services and accommodation outside the Bath & North East Somerset area

Bath & North East Somerset’s Housing Options team offer confidential advice for people at risk of becoming homeless at the council’s One Stop Shops in Bath, Keynsham and Midsomer Norton.

For more information visit: https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/housing/find-home/housing-advice 

Click here for the cabinet report