This week, Labour councillors in Rotherham have approved a new Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeper strategy. The ambition of these plans is to end rough sleeping across the borough. The Labour Cabinet at Rotherham Council approved the strategy on Monday which will see increased support for those who become homeless.
Like in many parts across the UK, the numbers of people becoming homeless has increased in recent years in the borough. Alongside the rising numbers of people becoming reliant on food banks, increasing homelessness is a damning indictment of the Tory austerity agenda. According to the Council’s own figures, the number of households being supported by the Homelessness Team more than doubled in 2017/18 to 403 and the number of people believed to have become homeless rose by 20%.
In response to this, Labour councillors approved the Homelessness Strategy that has six key aims to address the causes of and to prevent increasing levels of homelessness in Rotherham. This has also been matched by the Council doubling the number of emergency accommodation for those in need and increasing the priority for homeless people to access council housing. The strategies six aims are:
- To support people with complex needs
- To prevent homelessness and provide rapid housing solutions
- To increase support for young people to prevent homelessness
- To end rough sleeping and begging
- To improve access to tenancy support, employment and health support services
- To ensure there is sufficient decent emergency accommodation
Cllr Chris Read, Labour Leader of Rotherham Council, has said: “Whilst Rotherham’s issues with homelessness are perhaps less apparent than those in other parts of the country, especially in some of the big cities, it is very clear that more people are facing incredibly challenging circumstances. In this new strategy, and supported by the funding we have successfully secured, we are redoubling our determination to tackle homelessness, end rough sleeping, and make sure we leave no one behind.”
Our Homelessness Strategy also recognises the importance of pet dogs to homeless people as we aim to ensure that they can keep together. The Council will be increasing the number of emergency crash pads that are ‘dog friendly’ so that homeless people can keep their dog with them as we recognise the importance of these pets to them.
Cllr Dominic Beck, Labour’s Cabinet Member for Housing at Rotherham Council, has said:
“The rising levels of homelessness is simply unacceptable in a country as wealthy as ours and there can be no excuses for people sleeping rough on our streets. I’m proud that we have a Labour Council in Rotherham that has set the ambition of ending rough sleeping in the borough and increasing the support we offer for homeless people.”
Rotherham’s plans to tackle rising homelessness has also been supported by funding from the Rough Sleepers Initiative in which £328,000 will be shared between Doncaster, Barnsley and our Council. There are plans between our three towns to create new homelessness prevention workers to work with each Council in preventing people becoming homeless.