Sheffield will receive £1.3 million to prevent homelessness and stop people having to stay in temporary accommodation for long periods of time.
The Government wants to encourage local authorities to spend money on stopping homelessness instead of costly temporary accommodation. It has scrapped one of its grants and will instead provide a lump sum so councils can tackle homelessness in “more flexible and creative ways”.
Councils will be expected to provide advice, practical solutions and alternative accommodation with the new Flexible Homelessness Support Grant.
Zoe Young, housing options and advice team manager at Sheffield Council, says in a report: “Evidence has shown that we need to focus on early prevention work before a crisis occurs.
“To stop the use of temporary accommodation we will need to offer help earlier and offer tailored advice for people who are at risk of homelessness.
“Evidence shows that a disproportionately high number of single people with physical and mental health concerns are accepted as homeless and we need to target this group for prevention work.
“Offering more tailored advice and early intervention will stop people being placed in temporary accommodation which is unsuitable for people and is associated with high costs.”
There has been nearly a 60 percent reduction in homelessness acceptances in Sheffield since 2010 but in the last year acceptances have increased by four percent. Almost half were from single people or couples, compared to the national figure of a third.
The top three reasons for homelessness in Sheffield are being asked to leave by friends and family, a private sector tenancy coming to an end and domestic abuse.
The number of rough sleepers remains low in Sheffield with 15 people but this is a 36 percent increase from the previous year.
Sheffield Council says it does well with its sanctuary schemes, arranging hostel placements and making offers on social housing but admits it could do better at resolving benefit problems, giving debt advice and helping private tenants.
Residents say they would like to get help earlier with their problems in order to prevent homelessness. They want better housing choices and felt hostels were not always an appropriate solution for everyone.
Ms Young adds: “We have a number of people who get stuck in expensive temporary accommodation because they have complex needs and need more intensive help to move on.
“The proposal supports the vision set out in the council’s housing strategy to help vulnerable people to live independently. It supports the priorities of better health and wellbeing. Poor health can be both a consequence and cause of homelessness. Being homeless can make it more difficult to access health services and live a healthy life.
“The grant supports early prevention to help people keep their home or move in a planned way. This involves working to support people to stay in their community with support and affordable housing so people sustain tenancies in areas they want to live in.”
The new grant will be ring fenced and handed out over the next few years with Sheffield Council receiving £403,595 in 2017/18, £442,613 in 2018/19 and £491,515 in 19/20.