Council to spend £354,000 on housing service for rough sleepers in Sheffield

The Housing First service will target rough sleepers.
The Housing First service will target rough sleepers.
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Sheffield Council has set aside £354,000 to create a new service designed to get rough sleepers off the streets.

The authority will work with homeless charities the Cathedral Archer Project and Nomand Opening Doors to provide accommodation for those that need it the most under the 'Housing First' scheme.

Sheffield Council says it is easier to help people who are in stable accommodation.

Sheffield Council says it is easier to help people who are in stable accommodation.

On top of that, 'wrap-around' support will be offered to tackle the complex issues keeping people on the streets, such as addiction and mental health.

The idea behind the new approach is based in research showing people can make the most progress from a stable home, rather than temporary accommodation or hostels.

Homes will come from the private rented sector and 10 people will be put into accommodation at any one time.

The council says the number of rough sleepers in Sheffield fluctuates through the year, but at the last count in December there were 15.

Anthony Cunningham wants to set up a night shelter.

Anthony Cunningham wants to set up a night shelter.

The authority will fund the service at a cost of £354,000 over three years.

Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety Jayne Dunn said: “We’re doing everything we can to end homelessness in Sheffield and help improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“We continue to pioneer new approaches in Sheffield to tackle the problems, as well as introducing approaches that have proven successful elsewhere. We’re working closely with local charities who are delivering new projects with us.”

The council also funds more than 700 short-term supported accommodation places for vulnerable people, as well as the street outreach team which focuses on rough sleepers.

The announcement comes the day before homelessness campaigner Anthony Cunningham presents a petition calling for a night shelter at Wednesday's full council meeting. His online petition has more than 4,000 signatures while a paper version has about 1,400.

Mr Cunningham, who set up the 'tent city' shelter at Park Hill, says there is a 'huge hole within the safety net of our city to keep people protected from rough sleeping'.

But the council and city homeless charities believe permanent accommodation is the right solution.

Coun Dunn said: “Some people in the city are calling for a night shelter but we plan to use this extra funding to help get more people into supported housing schemes, help provide more tailored support and help people who are not yet on the streets but are at risk of sleeping rough.

"These are the things we know, and all the research and evidence tells us, will have the most impact in terms of helping people – and helping them for the long term.

“Night shelters provide a bed for the night but it’s not just a case of providing accommodation. We fund supported housing schemes because they offer somewhere to stay as well as wider support with issues around mental health and addictions.

“We will use this extra money to help more people, including those with very complex issues who have been on the street for some time. We already work very closely with local charities and partners but we know people move around, so will also use the funding to join up more closely with neighbouring areas.”

Archer Project chief executive Tim Renshaw said: “Housing First is about getting people into accommodation – a permanent, secure base, which gives them their own space.

"It’s then about helping them look at their own strengths and developing them, and helping someone build on their potential.

“A lot of issues around homelessness relate to instability and insecurity. Providing security is right at the heart of this approach.

"We’ll be working with people who have very complex needs and considerable personal barriers to overcome. One of our aims will be to take someone away from the situations they’re in, so that they can start to enjoy their life.”

And Fran Ferris-Ockwell, strategic director at Nomad Opening Doors, added: “We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with our colleagues at Cathedral Archer Project to pilot the Housing First approach in Sheffield.

“We believe that housing is a basic human right. We will help the people using the Housing First service to find somewhere they can feel safe, and somewhere they can call home.”

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