Press Releases week beginning 24 February 2020
Local Councils and voluntary organisations to support homeless people to Live, Work and Thrive
Hastings Borough, with Rother District Council, Education Futures Trust, Fellowship of St Nicholas and Sussex Community Development Association are working together to launch an exciting new project.
The new project will help homeless people find employment and increase their chances of finding a new home.
Live, Work, Thrive will bring a fresh approach to tackling deep-rooted causes of homelessness. The project enables job coaches, and housing officers to give employment support and homelessness prevention. Often, homeless people are caught in a trap; they can't get a job because they have no home. They can't get a home because they have no job. This project helps breakdown barriers to employment that exist when people are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
The funding for the project comes from three sources, Connecting Hastings and Rother Together (CHART) Community Led Local Development (CLLD) European Funds with Hastings and Rother councils also contributing.
Peter Chowney, Leader of Hastings Borough Council commented,
"This is a great opportunity to build on the work which is already being undertaken by local organisations to tackle homelessness and unemployment, and improve the life chances of some of the most vulnerable members of our community."
Doug Oliver, Leader of Rother District Council commented,
"The ability and skills required to gain employment are important in the efforts to reduce homelessness, Rother is glad to be working in this partnership with local organisations to assist local vulnerable people with this issue. I am very pleased to see this new project taking shape."
Homelessness is a serious concern for local communities. This project will build on existing work. It will also increase the staff that support the needs of those who are at risk of homelessness and those whose lives are already blighted by homelessness.
To find out more about the CHART programme.
HBC housing initiatives halve the number of rough sleepers
Hastings Borough Council is reporting on halving rough sleeping in a report due to go to cabinet in March. HBC is widely recognised as a leader in innovative practice for reducing homelessness through intervention and prevention.
The average numbers sleeping rough in Hastings in November 2018 were 48, a year later this was down to 24. The average so far in February 2020 is 19. A further 7 housing placements are planned for this week, so the council is hoping for a still further reduction in numbers of rough sleepers.
This progress has been made possible by the council investing its own money into services for rough sleepers, including twice-weekly outreach sessions and a specialist housing options officer. Because we are seen as a leader in this field of work we have been successful in bidding for Rough Sleeping Initiative and Rapid Rehousing Pathway for the last two years. This funding is achieved on behalf of all the district and borough councils in East Sussex and the county council and brings in a further £1,500,000 for services in East Sussex in 2020/21.
A number of services funded by the council are delivered collaboratively with community and voluntary sector organisations, including the Seaview Project and Southdown Housing Association.
Since June 2018, the council have used a portion of the Rough Sleeping Initiative grant to form a dedicated team of health, mental health, substance dependency, social care and housing specialists providing wraparound support for rough sleepers.
We also lead successful partnerships that bring together the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), social services, probation, and hospitals to ensure the housing needs of vulnerable people are met. This approach will be expanded this year with the police to identify and support vulnerable people leaving prison.
Getting people off the streets is only the first part of the story. Hastings has the highest number of Housing First placements for former rough sleepers in East Sussex. This approach is recognised as national best practice in providing ongoing support for people with multiple and complex needs. We have also been working to incentivise landlords to provide private rented accommodation for former rough sleepers.
Approximately 80% of rough sleepers in Hastings have a local connection to the town, although this can vary throughout the year.
In Hastings, between January 2019 and January 2020 a total of 79 rough sleepers were accommodated and a further 19 cases at imminent risk of rough sleeping were successfully prevented.
Despite these successes, the problem of rough sleeping is one that is not easily solved given the shortage of affordable housing locally; pressures within the care and support services and changes to the benefits system. More details of the councils work can be found in our homelessness strategy.
Cllr Andy Batsford, lead councillor for housing commented,
"I am proud of the work done by officers to work with partners and intervene in the lives of our most vulnerable residents and halve the rough sleeping numbers from their peak in 2018
"While the additional resources to tackle rough sleeping are very welcomed, the short-term nature of many of the grants makes it difficult to plan a long-term strategic approach to this issue, in particular, to address a lack of affordable housing."