Councillors asked to approve new West Dunbartonshire homeless strategy

West_Dunbartonshire_CouncilCouncillors due to discuss future plans to reduce the number of homeless people in West Dunbartonshire are to hear of an 18 per cent reduction in homeless presentations in the region in the last three years.

A report set to be presented to West Dunbartonshire Council’s housing and communities committee on February 1 details the decrease in homeless presentations and outlines plans to help drive down the figures further by offering additional support to help prevent residents becoming homeless.

The committee will hear details of a review of the council’s 2013-2016 strategy on homelessness which shows that overall the number of homeless households seeking help has dropped by 53 per cent over the last 10 years.

In addition, the review highlights a reduction in the number of young people becoming homeless; an increase in temporary accommodation available; the introduction of the mortgage to rent scheme to prevent homelessness; and the launch of a Common Approach to Tenancy Sustainment between West Dunbartonshire Council and local housing associations.

At the meeting, members will also be asked to approve More Than a Roof - West Dunbartonshire’s Homelessness Prevention and Temporary Accommodation Strategy 2017-2020.

The plan outlines additional support for people particularly vulnerable to the threat of homelessness – including young people; victims of domestic abuse; offenders; and those in financial difficulty. The strategy was created after extensive consultations with residents, community groups and partners.

The five key objectives for of the strategy are:

1) People at risk of losing their homes get advice on preventing homelessness;

2) People looking for housing get information that helps them make informed choices and decisions about the range of housing options available to them;

3) Homeless people get prompt and easy access to help and advice;

4) Homeless people are provided with suitable, good-quality temporary or emergency accommodation when this is needed; and

5) Homeless people are offered continuing support to help them get and keep the home they are entitled to.

The new strategy also outlines the council’s plans to help prevent people from becoming homeless once they are identified as being at risk. These include assistance relating to benefits and coping with financial difficulties.

Peter Barry, the council’s lead on housing and employability, said: “Our strategy for tackling homelessness over the next three years includes five key objectives that aim to continue and improve our recent success on this front. An 18 per cent reduction in homelessness over the last three years is a success story, but we must ensure that the strategy going forward offers every support possible for anyone who finds themselves in the position of being homeless.

“While that of course includes a course of action for anyone who is made homeless, it must also help to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.

“Young people, victims of domestic abuse, people coming out of the prison system and anyone in financial difficulty are particularly vulnerable to homelessness and our strategy includes specific support for those groups.

“We are determined to use every resource available to us to do the best we can to end the scourge of homelessness in our communities.”

If approved, ongoing monitoring of the strategy will be put in place to ensure it is being implemented effectively.

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