At a meeting of the community and housing services committee last week councillors heard about progress on work to reduce the number of children housed in temporary accommodation and how best to protect victims of sexual and domestic abuse.
The council’s focus on tackling the challenge of homelessness in Fife is paying off and numbers have been steadily declining over the past five years. However recent welfare reform changes are having a negative impact on families in privately rented accommodation, exposing more families to the threat of homelessness.
Committee convener Judy Hamilton said: “Our aim is to reduce the number of children and families in temporary accommodation and make sure that families are moved through temporary accommodation into permanent homes as quickly as possible.”
Working together with Shelter Scotland’s ‘Far From Fixed’ campaign the council has made a homelessness pledge to:
- Reduce the number of homeless households from 2,400 to 2,000
- Work with the Fife Housing Register partnership to permanently house an additional 250 homeless households in 2018/19
- Increase the prevention of homelessness from 20% to 30% of those threatened with homelessness, focusing on people leaving institutions or who are at high risk of rough sleeping and homelessness
- Continue to avoid the use of B&B as temporary accommodation
- Reduce the number of children in temporary accommodation from 370 by 100
Councillor Hamilton added: “It’s encouraging to see that progress that has been made in responding to the challenges of children in temporary accommodation. However more must be done to achieve a faster flow-through of families from temporary to permanent accommodation.
“The good news is that as we continue to progress with our affordable housing programme there will be an increasing supply of homes for families in need.”
Councillors also discussed progress on a report that highlighted some of the issues and problems faced by women affected by domestic and /or sexual abuse when accessing housing services in Fife. A working group involving the Fife Housing Partnership and the Fife Violence against Women Partnership has been looking at the issue focusing on areas including the advice and support women receive when they ask for help with housing. An improvement plan is now being taken forward and new training for staff has been put in place.
Councillor Hamilton said: “We’re working to avoid situations where women are being asked to attend multiple appointments to discuss their situation over and over again which can be very distressing. We’re also looking at ways of using our current tenancy agreement as a means of removing the perpetrator of abuse from the family home, rather than the victim. This could mean that anyone convicted of assault in a council house is in breach of their tenancy agreement.
“It’s certainly not right that the victims of abuse suffer further if they have to leave the family home. We now have dedicated resources in place to tackle this issue and we’ll be monitoring progress closely over the next few months.”