New five-year strategy in city to help tackle homelessness

ONE of the North of England’s most affluent cities is set to adopt a new five-year policy to tackle homelessness in the city.

Members of York Council’s cabinet will meet on Tuesday to decide whether to adopt the new blueprint which aims to encourage all agencies to work together to tackle the issue of both family homelessness and rough sleeping in York.

Its overarching aim is to prevent homelessness by providing advice earlier, working with people to find alternative housing or helping people to remain in their current homes by offering advice and support.

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Council bosses say the need to provide services for vulnerable people is paramount, especially as the problem is on the rise.

In 2011, 2,181 people were recorded as sleeping rough on any one night in England and this has increased to 2,309 in 2012. Rough sleeping in York is relatively low, but the city has still seen a slight increase over the past 12-months from two a night to eight a night.

The council must publish a homeless strategy every five-years.

Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, the council’s cabinet member for health, housing and adult social services, said: “These are difficult times, with mounting pressure on households to find and sustain the accommodation they need to support themselves and their families. We must do all we can to ensure these mounting pressures do not translate into more and more homelessness cases.”

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, made an impassioned plea earlier this year to end homelessness at the launch of a project designed give rough sleepers immediate help to ensure they do not spend a second night out on the streets.

He said at the time: “Those suffering from mental health or addiction problems make up a large proportion of those living on our streets.

“However, the financial crisis of the past few years has also had a devastating effect on many people, with individuals and families finding themselves without employment, losing their homes and falling into a frighteningly swift downward spiral into homelessness and despair.”

If approved, the new strategy will be available to download from the council’s website at www.york.gov.uk/housing