The Director (BA) introduced the presentation in the context of the Council having received from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) funding of £481,600 for 2018/19 and £444,260 for 2019/2020.
The Service Lead, Housing Needs and Homelessness spoke to the presentation advising that the former Exeter and Teignbridge Five Year Joint Homelessness Strategy had been amended to separate action plans as a result of devolved management and independent housing advice structures. The presentation covered the Rough Sleeping Initiative eight work streams of the Night Shelter, Housing First Project, the Tenancy Ready Scheme, shared Housing Projects, resettlement from Hostel, discretionary placements, mental health clinics and a rough Sleeping Co-ordinator. Rough sleeping figures for Exeter and the South West were provided and he referred to additional funding streams for the Rapid Rehousing Pathway Fund including the funding of navigators to support individuals and funding for a Local Lettings Agency scheme with St. Petrocks charity and the Private Rented Access Fund for increasing access to private rented tenancies.
The Complex Lives Co-ordinator detailed the achievements of the Rough Sleepers Initiative referring to case studies. Because of the complexity of needs of many of the individual rough sleepers for whom housing was secured, the success rate was around one or two out of ten who did not revert to rough sleeping. She commended the work of the support workers at the Night Shelter, reporting that it was regrettable that the year two funding did not include funds to continue with an additional hostel resettlement worker at Gabriel House.
The achievements and future plans of the Homelessness Strategy were set out, the revised Strategy to concentrate on delivering a strategy for Exeter and identifying what is needed to reduce homelessness in the city over the next two years, consultation on which would commence in the Spring with statutory partners, providers and Exeter’s voluntary sector as well as departments within the Council to ensure that there is support across the city for the future. Members commended the Homelessness Team on the work undertaken and urged officers to look at further ways of publicising this work which would better inform the public.
The Service Lead Housing Needs and Homelessness explained the local connection criteria which were based on MHCLG guidance emphasising that the City Council did not passport homeless people to other areas. Responding to queries, he referred to how the service responded to those presenting themselves as homeless including those from outside the area and it was noted that any potential consultation on the local connection criteria with other partners including the Devon Partnership NHS Trust and Devon County Council was likely to be independent of general consultations regarding the revised Homelessness Strategy.
Details of the Duty to Refer including figures were provided. Briefing of organisations would continue including work with the A&E department to identify ways in which they can make referrals, contacts with Exeter GP’s and a roadshow with Adult Social Care and Children’s Social Care. Additional support to manage referrals from the prison was also being planned through dedicated navigator posts.
Members thanked officers for the informative and comprehensive presentation.