To receive the Croydon Homelessness Strategy.
The Director of Gateway Services introduced the report and explained that homelessness legislation required housing authorities to publish a new homelessness strategy, based on the results of a further homelessness review. In way of introduction, she highlighted the following:
· The Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeping Strategy would deliver on, and contribute, to two of the outcomes the Council had committed to in the Corporate Plan 2018 -22: “Good decent homes for all” and “Live long, happy and independent lives”.
· The Local Housing Allowance rates had been frozen since 2016 and had recently been slightly lifted; however, residents were still struggling.
· There was a big migration into the borough from more expensive parts of London, which was a contributing factor. The neighbouring authorities also did not have as much private renting accommodation, so homeless people were being placed in Croydon; these people often had complex needs.
· The five key actions were based around intervention and prevention.
· The Somewhere Safe to Stay hub (SStS) at Croydon University Hospital (CUH) was the missing link in Croydon and was working very well; it was a 24/7 support centre with a rapid rehousing pathway. It had been soft launched in November 2019 and 50 people had already moved through the service with positive outcomes.
· A long-term temporary accommodation plan was currently being developed.
· Consultation events were ongoing and the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy was to be approved and published by March 2020.
The Health & Wellbeing Board were shown a video called “Rough Sleeping Partnership Working in Croydon 2020”, which was available on YouTube. The Director of Gateway Services thanked all the volunteers and organisations across the borough, who worked in partnership, and had helped develop the Strategy.
The Chair and Vice-Chair thanked the Director for her presentation and the development of the strategy; it was noted that the strategy including a wide range of partners and that the work was already being implemented was extremely positive.
Councillor Hopley thanked the Director and noted that there were a lot of fantastic initiatives included within the report. She expressed concern with the influx of those coming to Croydon due to being on the Gatwick Express line, the Home Office being based in Croydon and having a large support network and community projects available. The Director of Gateway Services explained that those using the services were monitored and it was verified from where they were from and the vast majority of homeless people were not from outside of the borough. The statistics were indicated that Croydon would soon have rates of homelessness as high as Westminster, however, due to the ongoing work and initiatives included within the strategy, this had been prevented. There was a high number of Eastern European homeless people in Croydon but there was government funding available to provide short-term accommodation, for up to six weeks, to help them get back in to employment to prevent long-term homelessness.
During the discussion, the Health & Wellbeing Board Members stated the following:
· The official launch of the SStS was on 30 January 2020 and the Director welcomed a representative from the Health & Wellbeing Board to be present. She also suggested that a couple of Board Members at a time could visit the Hub, which she would organise with the Chair, as it was a small space and the adults were vulnerable.
· Gateway Services were working closely with the CCG, Director of Public Health and social services; it was a whole system approach.
· All partners needed to be informed of the services available, namely the localities services, to ensure referrals were being made.
· A prison navigator role had been developed and newly appointed to; they were working closely with those released from prison and ensuring that nobody was discharged directly on to the street without signposting, a plan and a home.
· Those who chose to appear homeless or were travelling to the borough on a daily basis were not included in the strategy. Intelligence was being collected, alongside the Violence Reduction Unit, regarding those who were begging for money but were not street homeless to ensure they were provided with the correct help and support.
· Begging often became a part of people’s lives and had a sociable aspect to it and it was important to provide support in breaking these habits.
· The Director had asked someone who was formally homeless to do a video about how it felt to now have a home to ensure the residents voice was captured.
· There was a high number of people who were appearing to be homeless in the Purley area; the Director of Gateway Services agreed to distribute data to the Health & Wellbeing Board Members regarding how many people were appearing to be homeless and in which areas.
· The third Community Connect/Food Stop would be based in Coulsdon and would provide support to residents in the local area, not just those from Coulsdon. Key partners in the area would be asked to participate and some organisations were already offering to help.
Councillor Hall commented that the Community Connect/Food Stop had been life changing for some families and he had spoken to constituents who had preventing becoming homeless because of them. He also noted that it was important for those in crises, all forms of homelessness, have access to mental health services; the timeliness of this was crucial.
The Director of Public Health congratulated the Director of Gateway Services for her and her teams fantastic work for the most vulnerable living in Croydon. She noted that the Adult Safeguarding Board had identified homelessness as a priority since the strategy had been produced. She explained that there were different types of homelessness and it was important to collect the stories of all to track if there were any patterns and introduced earlier prevention work.
RESOLVED – That the Board agreed to note the draft priorities for a Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeping Strategy for Croydon.