14 December 2017
A five year strategy to minimise homelessness in Sheffield was agreed by Sheffield City Council’s cabinet on Wednesday, 13 December.
Between 2010 and 2016, Sheffield has seen a 60% reduction in the number of people that are homeless and have the greatest need of rehousing by the council, compared to a national increase of more than 30%. This is due, in part, to significant work undertaken by Sheffield City Council, working with partners, to help prevent people becoming homeless in the first place.
Homelessness is now increasing however, and the latest data shows a four per cent increase in the number of households who were accepted as homeless in Sheffield in the last year.
The new strategy focusses on preventing homelessness by providing more help to people at risk earlier on, working more closely with the most vulnerable groups and increasing the housing options available. There are real links between homelessness and health, and access to employment, and these will be addressed too.
Councillor Jayne Dunn, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, said: “Becoming homeless can be hugely traumatic and can significantly affect people’s mental and physical health. It means losing your home, your stability and security – all of which are fundamental to someone’s wellbeing and happiness.
“Most people associate homelessness with people sleeping on the street but, while this is at the most visible and sharpest edge of the problem, there are hundreds more people affected by it every year.
“We want to build on the good work already undertaken in Sheffield and, through the new plan, prevent more people from becoming homeless. I’d like to thank all the services and charities that work so closely with the council to help make this happen.”
In Sheffield, in the last year, 910 single people, couples and families who approached the Council for help were found to be homeless. This includes those who are staying with friends and family temporarily or living in unsafe, unsuitable and over-crowded accommodation. 438 of these households were accepted as being in ‘priority need’ because they had children or were vulnerable, for example, because of their mental or physical health.
New legislation which comes into effect in April 2018 (under the Homelessness Reduction Act) places greater duties on councils in tackling homelessness. These include:
- A duty to help people secure accommodation 56 days before they are at risk of losing their current home – this has been extended from 28 days.
- A duty to carry out a needs assessment for all applicants and agree personal plans to help them secure accommodation.
- A duty to provide tailored advice to groups who are at greater risk of homelessness.
The new duties are expected to lead to an increase in homelessness applications and the council is preparing for this by improving its advice to people at risk, creating a prevention toolkit to share amongst different departments and with other organisations, and recruiting extra staff.
Tackling rough sleeping has also been identified as a priority in the council’s strategy and the authority is working with Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham Councils to make sure there is a common approach. It will be improving the collaboration between services, focussing more on prevention as well as help in a crisis, and looking at how we can improve access to emergency accommodation and advice in the evenings and at weekends.
The Council recently commissioned a new Housing First service, which uses a different approach of providing accommodation for those who have found it very difficult to maintain housing, with wrap-around support to help people tackle issues around addiction and mental health.
The council is also part of the city’s Help Us Help campaign which provides information about the help available for people on the streets in Sheffield. Visit www.helpushelp.uk to find out more.
Visit www.sheffield.gov.uk to read the strategy.
Help with homelessness in Sheffield
Call the council’s Housing and Options line on 0114 273 6306 from Monday – Friday, 8.30am to 5pm for help with homelessness in Sheffield.
In emergencies, during evenings and weekends, please phone: 0800 7311 689.
Everyone contacting the council for help and advice will receive support. This might include:
- Help to prevent someone from becoming homeless
- An assessment to determine if the council has a duty to find someone somewhere to stay
- Referring someone to a service which offers support to look at things a person might find challenging and which could lead them to leave to return to being homeless such as help to budget, or to contact landlords for repairs
- A referral to a supported accommodation provider where support is on hand and there are regular and frequent visits from the accommodation provider’s staff team
- Sign posting to services in the city who may be able to help
- Support to register on the council housing register
- Help to find private rented accommodation
The system is designed to help people away from homelessness and street life. Extra help is available in freezing weather.