North Somerset Council launches five-year scheme to curb homelessness problem

PUBLISHED: 13:00 27 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:35 27 July 2017

Homeless Woman

Homeless Woman

Archant

A five-year scheme to support and prevent homelessness has been approved by North Somerset Council’s executive committee.

The executive member for housing, councillor Elfan Ap Rees, has said family breakdowns are one of the main causes of homelessness as the council passed its Prevent Homelessness Strategy 2017-22 at a meeting earlier this month.

The council has now laid out a plan to ensure more is done to support and prevent people from being forced to sleep rough.

Cllr Ap Rees said: “Young people fall out with their parents because of problems at home.

“The answer is to try to put those broken families back together and we are quite successful at that.

“We do work with Somewhere To Go and other organisations to maximise the support which can be given to the homeless.”

The strategy also reveals relationship breakdowns, the end of short-term tenancy agreements and leaving care institutions as other possible reasons for homelessness.

The council is investigating guardian schemes – where people can live in vacant community buildings and houses and act as a deterrent to vandals – and is working with landlords to create more housing opportunities for people who claim benefits as part of the plan.

It has said it will work to find solutions for homeless people.

The strategy will also aim to continue to provide a variety of services to support independent living, rehabilitation and reduce the risk of people becoming homeless.

North Somerset has the second-lowest percentage of rough sleepers per 1,000 people out of nine councils in Somerset and the West of England.

The council’s count found three people living on the streets in the Weston area, but there are believed to be more unrecorded cases.

Homeless charity Somewhere To Go has as many as 50 people using its services in a day, with 17 people describing themselves as rough-sleepers while others are staying with friends or in temporary accomodation.

In the strategy, Cllr Ap Rees says the council had achieved a ‘great deal’ to tackle homelessness.

He added: “But there is more to do – and given the steady increase across all indicators of demand, reduced council resources, and other increasing pressures on local services – we must have a clear prevention strategy for the future.”

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