A five-year strategy to tackle homelessness in Oldham is due to be approved by Oldham Council’s cabinet committee tonight (18th October). The plan focuses on both homelessness prevention and reduction.
Oldham Council reviews its homelessness strategy every five years. This latest strategy addresses the extra challenges the coronavirus pandemic has, and will continue to have, for housing. The vast majority of homeless people are families or single people staying with friends and relatives or in temporary or inappropriate accommodation. The number of people needing emergency help because they find themselves in this situation is rising — and is expected to continue to grow as Universal Credit cuts kick in and the cost of living increases. Other protections put in place during the pandemic have also ended — the ban on evictions in May, and furlough in September — putting increasing pressure on residents across the borough.
Cllr Hannah Roberts (pictured above), Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “We are living in some of the most challenging times in our recent history. Homeless people are already amongst the most disadvantaged in society, with many in Oldham particularly affected by poor mental and physical health.
“Oldham and the UK more widely, has a housing crisis. The pandemic has highlighted problems caused by a lack of social housing, an unregulated private sector, rising house prices putting homes out of the reach of many, cutting levels of Housing Benefit and the continuing impact of Right to Buy. Our Homelessness Prevention and Reduction strategy takes all that into account and sets out a bold plan to address it and find a sustainable solution.”
We have identified priorities. They are:
- Advice and information: promoting our services to residents and ensuring they have access to services to prevent them from becoming homeless.
- Early identification: ensuring everyone is aware of the ‘duty to refer’ people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. Developing local protocols to deliver more effective partnership working.
- Pre-crisis intervention: stepping in to prevent people becoming homeless.
- Preventing recurring homelessness: Using data to identify people who need additional support, such as rough sleepers, survivors of domestic abuse and care leavers and putting in place better ways of supporting them.
- Partnership arrangements: working together as a co-operative borough to prevent and reduce homelessness through shared resources, information, understanding and goals.
We’ve also launched our temporary accommodation strategy — which will run from 2021-2024. A key part of the plan will be to continue our ongoing successful efforts to cut the use of B&Bs as temporary accommodation. Instead, the council plans to move to a ‘direct delivery model’, to create more council owned and managed housing options, so we’ll have greater control over the local support offer. Properties will be located across the borough to cater to the growing demand boroughwide.
We’ll also maximise existing resources including working closely with both registered social landlords and private landlords, and we’ll continue to offer bespoke housing-related support to each household to ensure their housing needs are met during and beyond living in temporary accommodation. This approach will help residents to have a more sustainable housing experience and reduce repeat homelessness.
Cllr Roberts added: “Thank you to all the people who shared their personal experiences of homelessness with us as part of the consultation process. Your input was invaluable in helping to shape this strategy. Everyone deserves a home of their own but unfortunately for many people in Oldham this is not the case.
“The future is still very uncertain, but this strategy, together with our Housing Strategy and Covid-19 Recovery Strategy, puts us in a strong position to tackle homelessness and help Oldham to deliver its future housing needs so that one day we can end homelessness for good.”