Rochford District Council has re-organised its services in order to provide greater focus on homelessness prevention.
The authority now has one ‘Housing Options Team,’ creating a more streamlined service, with an emphasis on helping people at risk of homelessness.
This ties in with the Government’s new Homelessness Reduction Bill which is looking at placing extra responsibilities on local authorities to provide assistance at an early stage.
In line with the national trend, the Council’s local homeless figures show an increasing demand for services, with an average 90 clients a month approaching the Housing Options Team. The service is also facing increasing pressure as there is limited supply of affordable properties, particularly to rent. Affordable rent vacancies have decreased from 60 in 2015/16 to just 26 in 2016/17. This limited supply has the effect of ‘blocking up’ the system and creates further challenges.
Homeless prevention remains key to meeting this challenge and as part of this work the council, in partnership with Citizens Advice Rochford & Rayleigh, is piloting a ‘housing drop in’. It means that if a resident visits Citizens Advice at the Civic Suite, Rayleigh, with a query that includes housing, in addition to the independent advice they will receive from Citizens Advice, they can be directly signposted to the Housing Options: Prevention Officer who will see them immediately during set times.
The ‘drop in’ sessions are held between 10am and midday in the reception area, with upcoming dates confirmed as:
20 February 2017
6 March 2017
20 March 2017
3 April 2017
Cllr June Lumley, Portfolio Holder for Community, said: “I am incredibly proud of the work that we have been doing in relation to homelessness prevention, as it is surely better to take decisive action before a family ends up without a roof over their heads.
“This really is a huge undertaking; with ever increasing numbers on our Housing Register, extra duties placed on us by Government, and ever tightening budgets with which to help as many people as we can. This re-organisation will help us address these pressures, and I’m pleased to say that our newly-formed Housing Options Team is working hard to meet this challenge head on.”