Leicester City Council has set out actions it will take to tackle homelessness in the city over the next five years as part of its new homelessness strategy.
The strategy has been finalised following extensive consultation with the public and a range of agencies over the past year. It includes nine key priorities for work to be carried out by the city council with the support of its partners.
These include offering more support to single people to prevent homelessness, and to improve the advice and information on offer to do this, especially online. The council also wants to increase the range of housing options offered to single homeless people, and to offer them more permanent housing options.
Services for rough sleepers are to be improved by bringing together the council’s outreach and revolving door teams. By combining the specialist teams, the council aims to ensure that rough sleepers get more consistent support to help them get off the streets and into settled housing.
Housing staff will work with officers from the children’s services division to look at what supported accommodation is needed for young people and how it could be developed. And the council will create a coaching and mentoring service to assist vulnerable people at risk of homelessness.
A key part of the strategy is for the council to improve the way it works with partners, such as schools, prisons, the police and homeless organisations, as well as working with new partners within communities.
City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “In Leicester last year, more than 3,000 households came to the city council for help to stop them becoming homeless, and we spent £5 million on services for homeless people and families.
“Cuts to housing benefit, increases in private sector rents, and a massive shortfall in affordable housing mean that we – along with other cities across the country – are dealing with a growing homelessness crisis.
“This strategy sets out very clearly how we plan to adapt our services to meet changing needs, and also puts forward new and innovative solutions to dealing with them.”
Asst city mayor for housing Cllr Andy Connelly said: “In Leicester we continue to work with a wide range of partners to prevent and provide solutions to homelessness in Leicester.
“Strengthening these partnerships is an important part of the strategy and will play a vital part in meeting the very great challenges ahead of us.”
Earlier this month the council announced plans to set up its own housing company to build affordable housing in Leicester. The council aims to build 50 affordable homes in the first year of the company’s operation, with work starting on site at the end of this year.
Cllr Connelly said: “We’ve already earmarked more than £2 million of council funding for our house-building programme, and can also use some of the money raised through the sale of council houses, although most of this has to go to the Government.
“By setting up an arms-length company, we can access the finance we need to build new homes and make an impact on the housing market that would otherwise not be open to us.”
The homes will be built on land already owned by the council, and the first homes to be built will include two and three-bedroom houses and some bungalows.
The strategy is available at www.leicester.gov.uk