To approve the Prevention of Homelessness Strategy 2013 - 2018 (Paper 4).
The Prevention of Homelessness Strategy 2013-18, attached to the report as Appendix 1, replaces the Homelessness Strategy 2008-13 that expires in March. It reflects changes in regulations and developing good practice, as well as changes in the housing market and economic outlook, that are having an effect on people’s ability to find housing solutions and on their need for assistance.
A shortage of housing, combined with competition for rented properties from those unable to purchase, and restrictions on benefit payments to those on low incomes is increasing the need for advice and assistance to prevent homelessness. To meet this challenge, the Strategy recommends focussing resources on front line tasks to ensure more pro-active prevention work can take place as well as increasing efforts to access private rented sector properties. Procedures will also be reviewed to improve the recovery of loans paid to clients in order that these funds may be recycled to help others.
The Strategy was considered by the Policy and Performance Scrutiny Panel on the 10 January where it was requested that an update be brought back to the Panel in September and it was recommended that the Strategy be approved.
That the Prevention of Homelessness Strategy 2013 – 2018 be approved and adopted.
The Head of Housing and Environmental Health introduced a report, Appendix 1 to which contained the Prevention of Homelessness Strategy 2013-18. This would replace the Homelessness Strategy 2008-13, which was due to expire in March 2013. The new Strategy reflected changes in regulations and developing good practice, as well as changes in the housing market and economic outlook, which were having an effect on people’s ability to find housing solutions and on their need for assistance.
The Strategy analysed housing need and homelessness in Eastleigh and looked at actions put in place as part of the current Strategy. Some were working well but there were areas for improvement and greater focus. The Strategy also contained actions for the next five years which it was hoped would improve the Council’s offer to those facing homelessness.
A shortage of housing combined with competition for rented properties from those unable to purchase and restrictions on benefit payments to those on low incomes was increasing the need for advice and assistance to prevent homelessness. To meet this challenge, the Strategy contained key areas for action including increasing pro-active prevention work, improving access to private rented accommodation and working with other agencies to improve the offer for vulnerable single people, troubled families and rough sleepers.
During the discussion of the Strategy, it was queried what options were available for people unable to afford a mortgage or private rented accommodation, for whom no social housing was available. The Head of Housing and Environmental Health reported that First Wessex offered a leasing scheme to private landlords whereby First Wessex dealt with all the management of the property, guaranteed payment and gave the property back to the owner in the same state. However, landlords received less money than if they rented privately, so the scheme was not proving successful. In addition, the Council was looking at a scheme whereby it would agree with a developer of a site to buy a block of flats, set affordable rents and nominate people who had lost their homes to rent the flats. A model had been produced and two housing associations had shown interest in the scheme. Further options were also being explored on other sites.
The Panel was also concerned that the provision of one part-time member of staff to carry out pro-active homelessness prevention work might not be sufficient and asked that a update on the situation, after the member of staff had been in post for six months, be provided at the September meeting of the Panel.
It was AGREED -
(1) That an update on homelessness prevention be brought to the 17 September meeting of the Panel; and
(2) That it be recommended to Cabinet that the Prevention of Homelessness Strategy be approved.