A new strategy to be adopted by Liverpool City Council is emphasising the need to prevent people from becoming homeless.
The strategy sets out how the council and its partners intend to prevent and reduce homelessness between 2016 and 2020.
It has been developed after a comprehensive review in which more than 100 people who are homeless or potentially homeless were consulted along with many agencies who are involved in this issue.
The key issues which were identified were;
• There are indications that risk of homelessness in the city is increasing with a 26% rise in the number of people, who face homelessness, contacting the council’s Housing Options Service during the last five years. During 2015/16, 5838 households at risk of homelessness contacted the council for help and advice.
• However the number of people assessed as statutorily homeless decreased from 610 in 201/11 to 271 in 2014/15 reflecting the significant success in preventing the number of people from becoming homeless with the number of interventions increasing from 999 to 1852 during this time.
• There is still more scope to prevent people from becoming homeless with evidence that single people in particular do not seek advice to prevent homelessness and may end up in temporary accommodation.
A major recommendation of the strategy is to make use of new powers which allows councils to make offers of housing in the private rented sector to homeless people. Previously they had only been able to offer homeless people offers of social housing or six month tenancies in private sector accommodation. This means people are spending longer in temporary accommodation waiting for social housing to become available.
Another priority in the strategy is to adopt an early prevention and intervention approach towards single people and childless couples to limit the time they currently spend in temporary accommodation. It also recognises the Council’s ongoing commitment to No Second Night Out for rough sleepers.
And it also says a range of measures should be used to address the situation of homeless people who have complex needs. This includes learning from the Waves of Hope project, a lottery-funded initiative which aims to transform the lives of vulnerable people with multiple needs.
Councillor Frank Hont, cabinet member for housing, said: “We are placing the emphasis very much on preventing people from becoming homeless rather than picking up the pieces when somebody has lost their home – it is clearly better that, wherever possible, people remain in their own homes rather than having disruption to their children’s education, for example.
“And while we have been successful in preventing homelessness in thousands of cases we recognise there is always more we can do, especially at a time when the indications are that homelessness is on the increase.
“However successful we are in stopping people from becoming homeless there will always be those who lose their homes and we are trying to ensure we have sufficient temporary accommodation of a good standard available.
“I know there is a lot of concern about rough sleeping – people see somebody sleeping in a shop doorway and assume they do so because there is nowhere else for them to go. In fact, the vast majority of these people have been offered temporary accommodation and have not accepted the offer – they can have very complex needs and, along with our partners we are looking to adopt a further range of measures to help them.
“We appreciate that the public are concerned about homelessness and therefore we will be introducing a new Homeless Forum for anyone who is interested in the subject can attend to hear about the work the council and our partners are doing and ask questions or share their views.
“The reasons why people become homeless are many and varied .This strategy, which has been developed with the help of people, who have experienced homelessness is a comprehensive review of the issue and sets out in detail how we intend to prevent and reduce homelessness in the next few years.”