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Doing things differently to prevent homelessness

Published: Monday, 4th December 2017

Cabinet will be asked to approve a new strategy for homelessness prevention on 12 December.

The new strategy outlines the top three reasons people become homeless – the end of an assured short hold tenancy, family breakdown and domestic abuse - and recommends a positive pathway model which involves developing accessible services across five areas –

  • Universal prevention – to ensure people are well informed about their housing options via a range of service including non-housing services
  • Targeted prevention – to prevent people at higher risk from becoming homeless
  • Crisis prevention relief – to assist people as soon as possible if they do become homeless by securing sufficient accommodation and support
  • Homeless recovery – to support people to recover from their experience and stay out of homelessness
  • Sustainable housing options – to enable people to secure homes that they can afford and maintain

The approach has been based on the successful model used by St Basils for tackling youth homelessness in the city.  

The strategy also recognises the new prevention duties set out in the Homelessness Reduction act 2017 which comes into force in April 2018.

Cabinet member for housing and homes, Cllr Peter Griffiths, said: “Birmingham has a strong history of working together in partnership to tackle homelessness.  Despite our success, the scale and extent of homelessness has remained persistent.  A radically different approach that drives whole system change is now necessary.  In collaboration with our Local Authority neighbours from across the West Midlands Combined Authority area and the West Midlands Mayoral Taskforce, we will work together to eradicate homelessness from our city.  Our new strategy focuses on preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place and helping people who are homeless to build a more positive future.”

Cllr Sharon Thompson, Birmingham’s homelessness ambassador, added: “The impacts of homelessness are complex. The growing number of people living on the street makes visible what may otherwise be unrecognisable to the majority of people in our city.  Rough sleeping is a relatively small proportion of the overall homeless in our city and we must not forget those living in temporary accommodation, hostels and supported accommodation.  Homelessness can lead individuals and families into a cycle that can have a profound effect on all aspects of life.  It is not just a lack of accommodation.  Homelessness can affect our physical and mental health and wellbeing, educational achievement, ability to gain and sustain employment, and puts pressure on our personal and family relationships.  These effects, especially on children, can be life long and can cause repeated homelessness of a generational nature.”