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Homelessness in Medway - the time to act

July 4, 2019 5:18 AM
By Alan Wells
Homelessness Header
The introduction of the 'Homelessness Reduction Act' 2018 places a legal duty on Medway Council to support all eligible homeless applicants, regardless of priority need and to offer help to every eligible household threatened with homelessness. With Medway based charity 'Time for the Homeless' reporting more people relying on them for food handouts, Medway Council needs to embrace the culture of the Act for all people who are homeless in our Towns.

The charity Shelter supports the Act, finding that rising homelessness is being driven by growing problems with the affordability of housing combined with cuts to housing benefit. These problems seem likely to worsen in the future. The extra funding provided to councils to implement the Act, will make vital improvements to critical support being made available to more people at an earlier stage.

The Council must make provision for the resources they need to overcome these challenges, implementing a supportive housing model for individuals living with complex needs with an approach to street homelessness directly into subsidized housing & then linking them to support services. Earmarking extra funding to reduce homelessness should be a key priority for formulating a strategy to invest in building affordable housing, with a significant portion targeted to homeless individuals to have access to good quality homes, with secured tenancies. Research shows that when remained stably housed, health problems significantly improve.

Rough sleeping, affecting people with a range of complex needs is just one aspect of homelessness. Working with partners in the voluntary sector, the Council should implement effective procedures aimed at preventing & alleviating homelessness through early intervention, ensuring fair, equal & person-centred homeless services to find emergency accommodation & then assist with longer term solutions.

To help meet Medway's needs the Council must work with all agencies to recognise that the vulnerable people in our Towns need support, practical help & focussed assistance in order to break the cycle of homelessness. Through partnerships, the Council can utilise premises unused in the Medway Towns to enable emergency night shelters to be delivered throughout the year.