Tackling homelessness in Sandwell
Sandwell Council’s Housing Solutions Service has been working hard through the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions it has brought with it.
The Housing Solutions Service has supported just over 1,500 households presenting as at risk of or already homeless between March and August this year.
Speaking ahead of World Homeless Day on Saturday (10 October), Councillor Keith Allcock, cabinet member for homes, said: “The council is working hard to make sure we are providing the support and care for those who are facing homelessness or are indeed already homeless.
“The council took immediate action in March this year to support those who were sleeping rough and continues to support approximately 40 rough sleepers. We’ve supported 18 rough sleepers into longer-term accommodation in the past 12 months and an additional 10 into emergency temporary accommodation in response to the initial lockdown.
“We want to make sure no one is sleeping rough or is made homeless during these difficult times and we are continuously checking with housing providers and rough sleepers on a daily basis to make sure they are using accommodation and making contact where they have not.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been making sure all known rough sleepers have accommodation available to them and have responded to any new reports with offers of accommodation. There is no reason for anyone to be sleeping on the streets at night as all have been offered accommodation and anyone newly presenting will be offered accommodation by our team.
“The advice is that the sooner people contact us for help, the more chance we have of helping them stay in their current home or to ensure we help them find suitable alternative accommodation.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff and housing partners working tirelessly to make sure everyone in Sandwell is receiving the necessary support they need during this global pandemic.”
The council has successfully prevented 61% of cases from escalating to homelessness since March 2020. If you are at risk of homelessness then please contact us as soon as possible on 0121 368 1166 (option 2).
The council also provides emergency temporary accommodation where homelessness cannot be prevented. This service has helped support over 140 households into a new home from temporary accommodation since March this year and has worked hard to reduce the overall number of households in temporary accommodation from 129 in August 2019 to 69 in August 2020 – this is a 47% reduction, despite the extra demand and complications caused by coronavirus outbreak.
The council provides a lot of support to rough sleepers, including accommodation and advice on finances and health.
Now that more shops and businesses have reopened, the council has issued a reminder that giving money to rough sleepers and people begging in high streets and town centres means they are more likely to continue their current lifestyle on the streets and less likely to take up effective engagement and support. The council will be launching a new way of giving donations later this year, that will ensure money goes towards longer-term solutions for helping rough sleepers.
If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough or begging, the best thing you can do is call the council on 0121 368 1166 (option 2).
We want to continue with the good work and have launched a number of ways to help prevent homelessness and secure new properties for our residents. If you're a landlord with a property to rent you can find out more information at www.sandwell.gov.uk/landlordproperty and if you are a private tenant you can find out more at www.sandwell.gov.uk/privatetenant