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Increase in homelessness to be tackled with new strategy

A plan to tackle homelessness in Lincolnshire has been drawn up after an increase in the number and the complexity of the needs of people who are homeless.

In south Lincolnshire alone there were 95 homeless applications to authorities in 2016/2017.

The main reason for homelessness in Lincolnshire is the ending of an assured shorthold tenancy but violence is the second most common reason, accounting for 28 per cent in South Holland

In 2016/2017 352 households were prevented from becoming homeless by South Holland District Council.

Some of the main activities centred around providing help with resolving housing benefit issues, resolving rent arrears to help people remain in their accommodation and helping people to find accommodation in the private rented sector.

But a plan to tackle the issue is under way thanks to a strong partnership made up of all the Lincolnshire district authorities, including South Holland.

Figures show that rough sleeping is rising and there has been a year on year increase across Lincolnshire. There has been a 100 per cent rise from 2012 to 2016 and a further 87 per cent rise between 2016 and 2017, according to the autumn rough sleeper counts.

To help respond and prevent people becoming homeless and sleeping rough the Lincolnshire Homelessness Partnership is launching a new Homelessness Strategy.

Homelessness Prevention Programme Manager for Lincolnshire Amanda Pauling admitted the challenge ahead is difficult but she is optimistic about the strategy and the partnership.

She said: “This strategy represents a genuine partnership approach to tackle and prevent homelessness. Together we have a real opportunity to make an impact for those who find themselves homeless in Lincolnshire.

“The challenge ahead is difficult as there are many factors that contribute to homelessness. But everyone has the right to a safe and secure home and that has to be our goal.”

The new homelessness strategy sets out the key challenges, priorities and objectives for preventing and tackling homelessness over the next five years.

The strategy has 5 key priority areas:

Partnership: Developing and maintaining strategic relationships and partnerships;

Prevent: Preventing homelessness wherever possible to do so;

Protect: Protecting the most vulnerable from experiencing homelessness including tackling rough sleeping;

Place: Ensuring access to the right type of housing;

Possibility: Ensuring a sustainable future for supported housing.

The partnership has already implemented the new Homelessness Reduction Act. It includes a new duty to prevent homelessness regardless of priority need and for authorities to agree a personal housing plan with each applicant to prevent or relieve homelessness.

Amanda explained the Act represents a ‘key change in homelessness legalisation’ particularly setting out greater support to prevent or relieve homelessness for those who are not in priority need.

The partnership is working with a range of statutory and voluntary sectors to tackle barriers that prevent rough sleepers from moving away from the streets.

Significant numbers of rough sleepers have additional needs which can include mental health issues, addiction to drugs or alcohol, being physically unwell or any combination of these. There are currently difficulties accessing appropriate treatment services.

The partnership is currently delivering the ACTion Lincs project, which incorporates the support and co-ordination of key services including mental health, drug/alcohol treatment services and the police as well as a number of other partners.

Jonny Goldsmith, Operations Manager for P3, which is delivering the ACTion Lincs project, said: “The development of ACTion Lincs is something that we should all quite rightly be proud of across Lincolnshire. And whilst relatively new, what the project has achieved to date, shows just what is possible when all partners – across a variety of different sectors – grasp the opportunity to work together.

“Our hope now is that we can build upon the positive start that the project has made to ensure that we can improve the offer, not only for the 120 people who will be part of the project, but for Lincolnshire as a whole.”

Coun Christine Lawton (2848516)
Coun Christine Lawton (2848516)

South Holland District Councillor Christine Lawton, portfolio holder for Housing and Health, said: “I strongly support the launch of this new strategy to help tackle the scourge of rough sleeping across South Holland and Lincolnshire.

"By working cooperatively across the county with these specific areas of focus we can offer more comprehensive and invaluable help to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities."

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