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Tackling Homelessness in York


9:25am 5th March 2013

City of York Council is set to adopt a new five-year homelessness strategy for the city, if approved by Cabinet today.

Homelessness and rough sleeping are the most extreme forms of housing need and can have a devastating long-term impact on a person’s health and well-being say City of York Council. They add that the aim of the strategy is for all agencies to work together to tackle the issue of both family homelessness and rough sleeping in York.

The overarching aim of the strategy is to prevent homelessness, by providing advice earlier, working with people to find alternative housing or helping people to remain in their current homes by offering advice and support, say City of York Council.

The need to provide services for vulnerable people is paramount, especially as both rough sleeping and statutory homelessness (where someone has lost their home due to repossession, mortgage arrears, domestic violence, being asked to leave by family) is increasing nationally say the council.

In 2011 - 2,181 people were recorded as sleeping rough on any one night in England and this has increased to 2,309 in 2012, according to City of York Council. They add that rough sleeping in York is relatively low, but the city has still seen a slight increase over the past 12-months (from two a night to eight a night).

City of York Council report that nationally, statutory homelessness is also increasing – last figures published for Septembers 2012 show an increase of 11 per cent compared to same period in 2011. They add that in York, through an ongoing commitment to prevention, statutory homeless has remained stable with around 150 households being accepted each year and around 100 households in temporary accommodation at any one time. In 2011/12 agencies across the city prevented 993 cases of homelessness, the council report.

The council must publish a homeless strategy every five-years and building on the previous strategy (2008) the council has demonstrated how the shift from dealing with the effects of homelessness to addressing its causes is helping many more people from becoming homeless. 

City of York Council say that preventing homelessness is more cost effective than dealing with its consequences, and it delivers far better outcomes for those concerned.   For these reasons, they add, the council proposes to strengthen its efforts to make prevention and early intervention the backbone of the council’s approach.

Cllr Tracey Simpson-Laing, Cabinet Member for Health, Housing and Adult Social Services, said: “These are difficult times, with mounting pressure on households to find and sustain the accommodation they need to support themselves and their families. We must do all we can to ensure these mounting pressures do not translate into more and more homelessness cases. The council can offer this much needed support and encourages anyone facing difficulties to find help sooner rather than later .Whether that’s through the council or supporting agencies – a quick call can make all the difference.

“This strategy - with the help of the York Homelessness Forum, a body made up of many statutory and voluntary agencies working - aim to prevent and tackle homelessness in York.  It will be endorsed by the council, which will build on our ongoing commitment to this agenda over the next five years towards making homelessness in York a thing of the past.”

The council launched the 'No Second Night Out' by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York on Monday 7 January, in response to the government initiative to ‘End Rough Sleeping’.

The Archbishop recently chaired the Fairness Commission Report in York which identified six key recommendations, including the need to address the city’s housing and accommodation needs to support growth and improve affordability. Of the ten key fairness principles underpinning these recommendations, the most relevant is to support and empower the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society.

In addition to building on the York Fairness Commission’s key fairness principles, City of York Council say the strategy will also feed into the York Child Poverty Strategy and the Financial Inclusion Plan which are driving improvements for households struggling with low incomes and little financial resilience.  

These strategies and others that seek to improve the life chances and standard of living of local residents make a significant contribution towards preventing homelessness, say City of York Council.

If approved, the new strategy will be available to download from the council’s website at www.york.gov.uk/housing .

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