(Tilte Image: St Mungo’s)
A public consultation is set to be launched on a new strategy to tackle homelessness, subject to approval at this week’s Bridgend Council Cabinet meeting (pdf).
Following the introduction of the Housing Act 2041 by the Senedd, local councils had to undertake a homelessness review. In Bridgend, this took place during the second half of 2018. The key findings of it were:
- The number of households presenting to BCBC as homeless or threatened with homelessness (1,020 in the last year) rose by 18% between 2015-16 and 2017-18. There’s expected to be a further increase during 2018-19.
- 68% of households were single people and 59% were aged 34 and under; only 10% were aged 55+.
- The two main reasons for homelessness were a loss of rented accommodation and parents no longer willing or able to house someone.
- 307 households were helped into temporary accommodation in Bridgend during 2017-18 – a 6% increase on the previous year – and in total 69% of households that were threatened with homelessness avoided it.
- During November 2018, a rough sleeper count found ten people living on the streets. 10 emergency beds were made available; 5 took up the offer, 5 didn’t.
- 351 units of affordable housing have been made available between 2015-16 and 2017-18.
“There are often misconceptions about homelessness. It is not always about rough sleeping and not just about the availability of accommodation. Statutory homelessness includes people living in unsuitable or temporary accommodation.
“Additionally, there are often complex reasons for people becoming and remaining homeless. Many people are unable to sustain accommodation because of issues such as mental illness or substance misuse issues. Solutions, therefore, need to be varied and tailored to individual needs.”
– Cabinet Member for Wellbeing & Future Generations, Cllr. Dhanisha Patel (Lab, Ogmore Vale)
What measures does the draft homelessness strategy include?
The strategy sets four broad strategic goals.
- Improving collaboration between external organisations and key council departments – This includes more regular meetings between social services, housing and education and creating a forum which includes the council, landlords.
- Improving collaboration between BCBC and social landlords – Again, this includes more regular meetings between the council and social landlords, namely to come up with alternatives to evictions for rent arrears and anti-social behaviour.
- Making it easier for people to access homelessness services – The council want to cut down on the number of times homeless people have to repeat traumatic stories or personal details before they can access services, as well as provide more support and information the first time a household asks for help.
- Increase the supply and availability of appropriate housing – This includes cutting down on the number of people who are turned away or excluded from accessing services and ensuring suitable accommodation is available for people with mental health or drug abuse problems.