Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeping Strategy
Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
To approve the council's strategy to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Rough Sleeping Strategy, published August 2018, requires all local authorities to update their existing strategies to homelessness and rough sleeping strategies. By 31st December 2019 housing authorities are required to:
§ make available their strategies online and submit them to MHCLG and;
§ publish annual action plans.
The MHCLG Rough Sleeping Strategy 2018, requires local authorities to develop and publish an annual improvement plan for the strategy.
The cabinet member housing, regulatory services, and community safety introduced the item. The programme director housing and growth and strategic housing manager attended for this item to respond to questions.
It was acknowledged that tackling homelessness and rough sleeping was a high priority for the council and that the strategy focussed on prevention and developing suitable accommodation.
In discussion of the proposed strategy cabinet members noted that:
· Services were available to migrants, some of whom were rough sleeping, and there was a need to review and develop the structure for delivery;
· Many housing associations nationally had taken a more risk adverse approach to rough sleepers as potential tenants and avoided letting to people on benefits, in Herefordshire the strategic housing forum had been relaunched and the council had identified the importance of outreach and navigation workers to help individuals to sustain tenancies;
· The council was working with Hope Scott House in Hereford to develop their provision for homeless persons and a capital investment would shortly provide an additional 5 self-contained apartments with office space alongside for use by support services, being self-contained the accommodation was available to both males and females;
· The council’s enforcement teams worked to deal with poor quality rented accommodation, it had been noted that increased regulation and small margins were squeezing out smaller landlords and work was taking place with housing associations to ensure that private rental properties were offered;
· The council was considering developing its own properties, which might provide an opportunity to fill gaps in the types of accommodation available;
· The lack of accommodation which would accept pets had been raised by the voluntary and community sectors as a deterrent to some people coming forward for help;
· Further bids would be submitted for funds to support health improvement projects and work continued with health partners to provide access to services;
· The housing solutions team had an out of hours service with 24 hour helpline to support people in crisis, the team had contacts with private landlords and with the night shelter in St Peter’s Square in Hereford;
· Connections had been made between council strategies to co-ordinate work, for example the prevention toolkit for the community hubs model would help to support vulnerable people within and through their local community;
· There were differing views as to whether members of the public should be discouraged from giving money to people begging on the streets with some organisations believing that it helped to sustain individuals’ drug or alcohol habits or rough sleeping as a lifestyle, however care needed to be taken not to stigmatise all homeless people and the council had given feedback to those responsible for recent posters on street furniture in Hereford that it was not an appropriate message.
Group leaders were invited to express the views of their group. It was suggested that reporting should use figures as up to date as possible, perhaps quarterly, to assess trends and check the effectiveness of the strategy. It was also suggested that the strategy should be titled for the prevention of rough sleeping.
Following consideration of the points raised:
Councillor Davies proposed and Councillor Harrington seconded that the strategy should be amended to make more specific reference to services for migrants.
Councillor Marsh proposed and Councillor Norman seconded that the title of the strategy should be amended to stress the prevention element and that the strategy should include reference to pets.
The above amendments having been accepted it was agreed that:
(a) the Strategy for the Prevention of Homelessness and Rough Sleeping at appendix 1 be approved, with the additional inclusion of reference to migrants and pets.
Reason Key: Strategic nature / impact on communities;
Wards Affected: (All Wards);
Contact: Hayley Crane, Housing development officer Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01432 261919.
Report author: Sandie Rogers
Publication date: 09/01/2020
Date of decision: 19/12/2019
Decided at meeting: 19/12/2019 - Cabinet