More cash to help long term rough sleepers

Sheffield has been given more money to find homes for repeat and long-term rough sleepers.

By Lucy Ashton, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 18 July, 2019, 12:05
Sheffield is getting more cash to help long term rough sleepers

The council has received almost £413,000, from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to provide emergency spaces, better support and suitable longer-term housing.

It’s the latest instalment of funding which started last year when the Government said it wanted to work intensively with areas to immediately tackle rough sleeping and address the long-term barriers to ending it.

Sheffield has already received more than £363,000 and the latest grant will help it continue the work into next year.

Council officer Zoe Young says in a report: “The funding last year created a small and dynamic team, tasked to work with an identified group of repeat and long term rough sleepers

“There needs to be a different approach and personalised, tailored responses for people refusing the options currently available to them.

“This is a continuation of the work plus the addition of a street outreach nurse to address health inequalities within the rough sleeping population.

“The funding provides practical help and assistance to flexibly support the individual. The team have already had some successes, resulting in former rough sleepers settling into a new home with ongoing support.”

The council has expanded its outreach sessions so it can rapidly assess anyone new to the streets.

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The report says: “The service is working in different locations across the city and this has been successful in reaching out to the most vulnerable.

“Early advice can help to prevent homelessness and reduce rough sleeping. The outreach officers are also providing next day assessments for anyone using emergency overnight accommodation, as well as linking in the prisons and hospital for people due to be released or discharged without any accommodation to return to.

“The brief also includes individuals known to be engaging in street activity, including begging, who are at risk of losing their accommodation and becoming homeless.”

Emergency accommodation for rough sleepers will be expanded to help people off the streets as soon as possible. This is offered to anyone on the streets with a same or next day assessment.

“We have always been able to provide this over the winter through the goodwill of providers but with the grant we have been able to ring-fence bed spaces for rough sleepers on an ongoing basis.”

Another key area will be finding 30 places for the most vulnerable people to move on to and help them resettle. Rent arrears, failed tenancies and needing rent in advance can exclude people from social housing.

Housing companies have pledged a number of properties specifically for rough sleepers, taking people from the streets or emergency accommodation, and the council wants to extend this to private landlords.

Compared to most core cities the number of rough sleepers in Sheffield is relatively low but numbers have increased both locally and nationally.