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Jan 06 2013

Harrow Council Publishes Draft Homelessness Strategy

harrow_council_logoLast week, Harrow Council published its Draft Homelessness Strategy – you can download a copy of the 29 page document here.

Local housing authorities have a duty to review homelessness in their district and formulate and publish a strategy based on the results of the review under the Homelessness Act (2002). Building on the existing strategy, this document details Harrow‟s response to the difficult housing choices, as well as the opportunities offered by the Localism and Welfare Reform Acts, that the Council will have to make in meeting its homelessness duties. In particular, this document is central to delivering the draft housing strategy‟s overarching objective of „Continue to tackle homelessness by improving access to, and improving standards in the private rented sector.’

It makes interesting reading. For example:

  • Nationally, homelessness is increasing. Statistics shows that in the second quarter of 2011 a 17% increase in statutory homelessness had occurred compared to the same period in 2010. Levels of homelessness are expected to increase…
  • There were 63 families living in council provided Bed & Breakfast accommodation at the end of September 2012. This is a significant increase in the use of emergency and temporary accommodation in the past year and has increased from single figures in 2011.
  • 17% of all of Harrow‟s households receive housing benefits and of those, 73% of households receiving HB are of working age.

Homelessness can often be prevented, if help is sought early enough. With the right advice, at the right time no-one should become homeless intentionally.

We’ve emphasised the last paragraph, because @iPravwin sent us a photo – of someone sleeping rough on a bench in Queensbury Park, where he’s been for the last two weeks.

homeless_man_queensbury

The person pictured says that he’s had ‘no response’ from the Council to his pleas for help.

The Council goes to pains to point out – paragraph 47 in the Draft Strategy – that “…many people can become homeless or be threatened with homelessness because of a specific support need. There can be many reasons, such as disability or issues such as drug and alcohol misuse, and by identifying support needs we can prevent homelessness through targeted and specialist support.”

It continues (para 51): “Historically, rough sleeper numbers in Harrow has been low and in the 2011 annual count of rough sleepers an estimated 1 rough sleeper was returned for Harrow. However, evidence that rough sleeping is increasing because of the economic climate and Housing Benefit changes is emerging. For instance, since the beginning of the year 14 verified rough sleepers who either approached or were referred by the London No Second Night Out (NSNO) assessment hub to the Council have been assisted.”

We’d suggest, Harrow Council, that you get down to Queensbury Park to see if you can help this person, pictured. As The Guardian points out, A new report from Crisis highlights a depressing statistic: the average age of people dying while homeless is just 47 – that’s 30 years fewer than that of the general population.

The consultation doesn’t appear to have started for this yet, although, when it does, it should be available for comment here.

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