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The five-year plan to tackle homelessness in Coventry

Growing concerns about the number of homeless people in Coventry are being tackled in a new five-year plan developed by the city council.

From 2013/14 to 2017/18 just over 5,000 approached the council because they were homeless or threatened with homelessness.

The main reasons for homelessness included a family relationship breakdown (29 per cent), end of private rented tenancy (28 per cent in 2017/18) and the violent breakdown of a relationship (13 per cent).

The council’s Housing and Homelessness Strategy 2019-2024 highlights the need to reduce the number of people in temporary accommodation, and provide enough affordable homes.

It also pledges to develop a ‘partnership approach to street homelessness’, bring empty homes back into use and improve maintenance of all rented properties – which makes up 25 per cent of housing in Coventry.

Housing shortage

Latest figures indicate that nationally only around 160-165,000 new house are being built every year – well short of the government’s target to build 300,000 new homes a year.

At a scrutiny meeting this week, cabinet member for housing Councillor Ed Ruane said: “It is not rocket science – we need to build more homes and we need to be less timid when people object to house building.

“We need to be building houses at a much quicker rate than what we are.”

 

Mark Andrews, planning and housing policy manager, added: “There has been a real reference to making sure we do not just deliver affordable houses, but genuinely affordable homes.

“We are thinking about what is affordable to Mr and Mrs Coventry.”

Temporary accommodation

Coventry City Council no longer owns any council housing after the stock was transferred to Whitefriars Housing Group in 2000.

But it is looking at ways to get homeless people into more suited temporary accommodation and recently agreed to enter into a £1.7m lease to place them into Caradoc Hall as just one measure.

 Caradoc Hall
Caradoc Hall

The council’s last contract for homelessness and ex-offenders accommodation and support was awarded to The Salvation Army in April 2014, which was worth £9.1m.

It is due to be re-commissioned when it comes to an end in April, but the council has been urged to rethink this.

Louise Morley, from the Experts by Experience group, said: “We are discussing the possibility of multiple homelessness providers within the city.

“Currently it is the Salvation Army and that’s the choice. Once you have been thrown out of the Salvation Army you are back on the streets.”

Kate Still, West Midlands Housing Group’s chief operating officer added: “There is no single organisation in the city than can meet the full needs of homelessness. It is very diverse.”

Women on the streets

Calls were also made for stand-alone support for women who end up on the streets due to abuse.

Ms Morley added: “We would also like to see some provision for women as well. If you have been subject to any kind of abuse it is currently not fit for purpose.”

A consultation ended on December 18 and will be presented to cabinet and council for approval in February.

By Tom Davis, Local Democracy Reporter

Source: Coventry Telegraph

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Britain could end homelessness in a decade, claims new report

Homelessness in Britain could be eradicated within 10 years with the correct measures in place, according to a report.

Government policies needed to end homelessness have been set out in a report by charity Crisis called Everybody In: How To End Homelessness In Great Britain.

The plan has been endorsed by experts in the US, Canada and Finland, who are leading successful movements to end homelessness in their countries, Crisis said.

The report follows work with the Chartered Institute of Housing, Heriot-Watt University, the National Housing Federation, and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

The plan says that a national roll-out of Housing First would benefit more than 18,000 homeless people, by providing homes that come with a package of specialised support.

The plan also sets out the policies needed to support people once they are housed, including better rights and longer tenancies for private renters, and reforming housing benefits.

Ending homelessness will also require hospitals, prisons, the care system, and other parts of the state to play a role, the research finds.

Crisis said these organisations should be legally required to help prevent people leaving their care from becoming homeless.

The plan also proposes that job centres have homelessness specialists.

PwC found that, over the next decade, these policies would cost £9.9 billion and deliver benefits worth £26.4 billion, Crisis said.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “For the first time ever, we have a comprehensive plan that shows exactly how we can address the root causes of homelessness and make it a thing of the past.

“Other parts of the world are taking huge strides towards ending it, and Britain can too.

“We must not become a society that simply accepts homelessness as ‘a sad fact of life’, because the good news is that we know it doesn’t have to be this way.”

This includes people living on the streets, in cars and tents, or in unsuitable temporary accommodation.

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Housing spokesman, said: “It is essential that all councils are able to borrow to build new homes and adapt welfare reforms to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.

“A genuine renaissance in council housebuilding would increase housing supply, boost home ownership and reduce homelessness.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it was committed to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping, working with charities like Crisis.

“We are investing more than £1.2 billion to tackle all forms of homelessness and just last week we announced £30 million for councils to help boost the immediate support available to people living on the streets.

“We are also investing £9 billion to build more affordable homes and are piloting the Housing First approach in three major regions to get people off the streets and into stable accommodation.”

Source: Herald Scotland