Stoke-on-Trent City Council say a new strategy will help them further reduce the number of rough sleepers.
The cabinet has today approved a new five-year plan, committing the authority and its partners to focus on preventing homelessness and rough sleeping, providing targeted interventions, and helping people to achieve sustainable recovery.
It comes as latest figures show the number of people sleeping rough in the city has halved in the past 12 months.
The annual estimate, based on a chosen night in November, showed there were 16 people sleeping rough, compared to 34 at the same time in 2018.
The new strategy follows the announcement prior to Christmas that the council is working with the Macari Centre to finalise a new, five-year lease that provides long-term security for the Hanley-based shelter.
It also follows news that the council will receive an additional £136,000 in its homelessness reduction grant from government for 2020-21; a move which the authority says reflects the confidence shown in the work being delivered in the city.
The new strategy is needed to take account of changes that have occurred during the lifetime of the previous document including the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 and the Government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy and Action Plan and to reflect the current challenges faced by many households in the city in finding and maintaining accommodation that meets their needs .
The new strategy is the result of detailed research into the reasons people become homeless in the city and takes on board the findings from extensive consultation with stakeholders and people with lived experience of homelessness.
Once approved the city’s Homelessness Reduction Board, a consortium of service providers and other agencies working with homeless people in Stoke-on-Trent, will oversee the development and delivery of a detailed action plan aimed at reducing homelessness and eradicating rough sleeping in the city.
Councillor Randolph Conteh, cabinet member for community and safer city said: “I am very pleased to be able to present a new homelessness and rough sleeping strategy for Stoke-on-Trent.
“Over the five years since the last strategy was adopted we have worked closely with partners to ensure that people facing homelessness have the best possible support to prevent this wherever possible and quickly relieve it where it does occur.
"In line with the national picture we have seen rises in the numbers of people approaching the council as homeless and finding themselves sleeping rough but our strong partnership approach has meant that we have been able meet this challenge both through effective delivery of new legislation and by bringing in additional resources from central government.
"This has meant that we have been able to protect front line services working with homeless households at a time other local authorities have been reducing theirs.
“This strategy sets out our continued commitment to tackling homelessness and meeting the government’s target of eradicating rough sleeping by the end of this parliament and I am confident that it provides a clear framework to support the partnerships we have in place to achieve this.”
Helena Evans, chief executive of Brighter Futures and chair of the Stoke-on-Trent Homelessness Reduction Board, said: “A safe, settled home is essential for individuals and families to build a better quality of life, access services they need and gain greater independence.
"However, in Stoke-on-Trent, in common with so many other areas across the country, people often find it difficult to access good quality accommodation or struggle to sustain it due to issues such as affordability or challenges with mental or physical health.
“This is not something any one organisation can tackle in isolation and I am delighted that the city council has recognised this, not only within this new homelessness and rough sleeping strategy but also through the establishment of the Homelessness Reduction Board and its continued support of agencies such as ourselves working every day with homeless households and people that find themselves sleeping rough.
“I look forward to working with the council and other stakeholders and service users across the city to ensure we have detailed and robust plans to support this strategy and ensure everyone in Stoke-on-Trent is able to have a decent and secure home that they can call their own.”