Bristol City Council has set out its five year Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy, which includes innovative work to prevent and reduce homelessness and plans to continue to work in partnership with a wide range of other organisations across the city.
The strategy focuses on preventing people becoming homeless in the first place, but also outlines increased efforts to assist people sleeping rough in the city and offer them pathways off the streets and into secure housing.
The strategy is based around the five key themes of;
- Tackling Rough Sleeping
- Prevention and Early Intervention
- Improving Health, Wellbeing, Skills and Aspirations
- Delivering Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in all Services
- Working in Partnership
The strategy has been shaped by a number of organisations including Bristol City Council, the NHS, voluntary organisations, homeless charities and people with lived experience of homelessness and rough sleeping.
Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said: “We have worked closely with organisations across the sector, and those with lived experience of homelessness, to develop this strategy and we would now like the public to comment on our proposed approach.
“No one should have to sleep on the streets and we are working together in Bristol on a One City approach to ending homelessness through both short term solutions and long term change.
“Homelessness is a complex issue, and we know that there is not one thing alone that will fix it. However, by working together across a series of initiatives, our ultimate aim is to end rough sleeping in Bristol and provide everyone with a safe place to call home.”
Over the last five years, Bristol has worked hard to make preventing homelessness a top priority. In 2017-18 the council prevented 728 households from becoming homeless.
Despite homelessness and rough sleeping providing an ongoing and growing challenge for the city there have been a number of positive developments including:
- the delivery of dedicated primary healthcare services to homeless people
- an increased focus on homelessness prevention by services commissioned by the council
- the development of a range of new services for people sleeping rough (including the St Anne’s Winter Shelter and the Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub).
- bringing 381 previously empty private sector homes back into occupation during 2017/18
- a specialist single point of access for young people facing homelessness.
However, we know that much more needs to be done to tackle the issue and the new strategy sets out how the council proposes build on this good work and improve the support available.
Councillor Paul Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Rough sleeping is not the only form of homelessness and we are trying to do more to prevent all forms of homelessness through early intervention with those at risk.
“One of the main challenges we face in meeting the needs of homeless households is the shortage of affordable housing in Bristol and specifically private rented accommodation affordable to people on housing benefit.
“Turning Bristol into a city where no-one has to sleep rough will be a tough challenge but one that we need to address to create the type of city we can all be proud of.”
National benefit changes - including the roll out of Universal Credit - has led to a further increase in homelessness in Bristol and throughout the country. National government funding cuts will see the council face an additional funding gap next year, meaning more services could be under threat.
The consultation launches today and will run until Monday 27 May. You can take part by visiting www.bristol.gov.uk/homeless-strategy-consultation-2019
Paper copies will be available from libraries and the Citizen Service Point at Temple Street. Alternative formats are available on request.