NEW STRATEGY TO HELP THE HOMELESS
AMBITIOUS proposals aiming to prevent homelessness and support rough sleepers through the tough times has been unveiled.
Swansea Council’s Homelessness Strategy is due to be introduced next month, and includes five objectives and a detailed action plan which aims to put the needs of those affected by homelessness at the heart of the services they receive.
The action plan includes creating a Homelessness Charter which will look to develop a set of standards about how people who are faced with homelessness should be treated.
There will also be an increase in emergency beds for rough sleepers, improved access to support for those at risk of homelessness due to issues such as mental health or substance misuse and protocols developed with all local housing providers to ensure eviction is a last resort.
Andrea Lewis, Swansea Council cabinet member for homes and energy, said the strategy is an important step towards enhancing the alliance of organisations already working together for the benefit of vulnerable people across the city.
She said: “It isn’t about words, it is about actions. Homelessness is on the rise. A huge amount of work is already being done to prevent homelessness in our communities.
“This strategy and the actions which go with it will help us to go the extra mile to support families, single parent families, rough sleepers, those with mental illness and others who are at risk of becoming homeless or are already homeless.
“Almost three-quarters of those who come to the council seeking help because they’re afraid of losing their home end up keeping a roof over their heads. That is good news and is better than the Welsh average. But more needs to be done.” The challenges of homelessness and the council’s response to it is set out in the strategy being presented to cabinet for approval on November 15. It has been developed following an extensive consultation with service users, other housing organisations and residents generally.
The five objectives focus attention on prevention, ensures the availability of suitable accommodation and timely support for those most at risk and aims to eliminate the need for people to sleep rough.
Councillor Lewis said: “These are ambitious objectives, they won’t be easy to meet and we can’t do it alone. The council and its partners will continue to draw on each other’s expertise and work closely with the families and individuals who are homeless or at risk of losing their home.
“It’s a complex area and there are no easy solutions. There are low levels of rough sleeping in Swansea, but the trend shows numbers have been rising, just as they have been elsewhere. That’s something we want to change.
“We want to provide those who find themselves sleeping rough with appropriate support to get them back into stable accommodation as quickly as possible. We’re developing a Housing First approach which aims to secure rough sleepers with appropriate accommodation so that their often complex needs can also be addressed.”
She added: “There is a lack of information about rough sleepers generally which is one of the reasons why the strategy also calls for research among rough sleepers and former rough sleepers to find out from them how we can help overcome barriers, address problems and secure appropriate housing for the long term.”