Mayor Andy Street has today called on the Government to extend the funding for the Housing First scheme which has successfully reduced the number of rough sleepers on the streets of the West Midlands.
The scheme has already helped 156 rough sleepers in the West Midlands into homes of their own with specialist wrap-around support for mental health, drug and alcohol issues.
The Mayor has asked for the Government to commit to a further £12M (Around £4M per year for each of the three years 2021-2024), which would provide a Housing First place for 700 more vulnerable people, and broadening the project to include ‘move on’ accommodation for those recovering from serious issues.
The Mayor’s call follows official MHCLG figures released yesterday which showed that the rough sleeper count had decreased by 32% in the last year from 169 to 115 across the West Midlands.
The three pilot areas for Housing First across the country, West Midlands (32%), Greater Manchester (36%) and the Liverpool City Region (28%), had the most significant reductions in rough sleeping of any area in the country.
Andy Street said, “After the promising initial results of Housing First and the decrease in rough sleeping we have seen, we still need to do more to make sure that no-one sleeps rough in the West Midlands.
“That’s why today I’m calling on the Government to extend the funding available for the project, committing another £12M to the project until 2024 so that we can eliminate rough sleeping and tackle the root causes of homelessness”.
Andy made his call to Government on the day that the West Midlands Change Into Action ‘alternative giving’ scheme was rolled out in Coventry. The scheme ensures that the public know that their donations are going to specialist homeless experts who can properly support the homeless.
If re-elected as Mayor, Andy Street will continue the work of the West Midlands Homelessness Taskforce, and he has pledged to:
- Build thousands more affordable homes for rent and to buy, using Government funding to help councils and housing associations to clean up derelict sites and build new homes, expanding the existing WMCA work on Affordable Housing Partnerships with housing associations
- Support councils and housing associations with expertise and funding to build new social housing to reduce the housing waiting lists and to get people out of temporary accommodation
- Explore whether a ‘Commitment to Collaborate’ between councils, the NHS, Jobcentres could develop into integrated case management, where a full team of specialists gives each person exactly the right support for them, and shares information to make sure they don’t fall through the gaps between services
- Develop a West Midlands support plan for families in temporary accommodation, including discounted travel, childcare options, and training and job opportunities.
- Launch a joint Commission with councils to tackle rogue landlords and ‘exempt accommodation’ in the West Midlands, including exploring the introduction of a new licensing regime for landlords
- Keep pushing Government to restore the Local Housing Allowance part of Universal Credit to a rate which allows people to afford to rent a decent home, stopping people getting into rent arrears and being forced onto the streets in the first place
- Help councils to get to grips with homelessness, by providing management expertise and support to the councils where homelessness is still a major issue.
- Continue to support our brilliant homeless charities and faith groups in their work to tackle homelessness, and develop further specialist support for veterans at risk of homelessness
- Work with businesses in the region to set up ‘hardship funds’ to help their own employees who might be at risk of homelessness, like Andy oversaw at John Lewis
- Continue to work together with the Taskforce of charities, businesses and councils regardless of political party to make sure that no-one has to be homeless in the West Midlands.
Andy Street, the former Managing Director of John Lewis said: “If I am re-elected as Mayor in May tackling homelessness and rough sleeping remain a priority for me. We need to go beyond just focusing on rough sleeping and work to ‘design out’ the root causes of homelessness.
“I would like to thank all of the public servants, faith and charity groups and volunteers who have been on the frontline of tackling homelessness in the West Midlands. It is a team effort, and all of their hard work is beginning to show in the figures.
There’s much more to do, and I hope I can play my part in the years ahead.”