Highland housing initiatives aim to prevent homelessness and improve lives
Initiatives being undertaken by The Highland Council to prevent homelessness and improve the lives of homeless people have been warmly welcomed by members of the local authority’s community services committee.
The Temporary Accommodation Re-Provisioning Project aims to reduce the use of leased private sector rooms and bed and breakfast type accommodation and invest the savings generated in the building and acquisition of council owned accommodation.
The project set a target of a reduction in use of 50 private sector rooms per year between 2013-17, which was predicted to generate revenue savings of £1.8 million, over four years, to fund 200 new homes by 2017.
The use of contracted rooms has reduced by 101 to date and an additional 56 one bedroom units have been provided, with another 42 units at various stages in the development programme.
A new Housing Options Policy aims to take a person centred approach and use early intervention to prevent problems escalating and resulting homelessness. Changes have been made to staff roles to ensure an improved and integrated homelessness, prevention and accommodation service. Early intervention can include advice on debt, mediation, mental health as well as housing.
Chair of community services, Cllr Allan Henderson, said: “There has been excellent progress in moving from the use of private sector to investment in council accommodation. The only sustainable model of temporary accommodation for the future is to increase the number of HRA units, with a rent structure that is affordable to people on welfare benefits. We will still need to use a small number of private sector rooms to allow emergency cover and flexibility.”
He added: “The new Housing Options Standards and Policy is a very welcome initiative and staff are to be congratulated on this holistic approach which takes account of feedback from people who have experienced homelessness first hand.”