Presented By:Paul Sylvester
Paul Sylvester gave a presentation on tackling homelessness with the support of DI and PW, and the Board’s attention was drawn to the following:
· There had been an increase of 25% in those presenting themselves to the Council as homeless, although these figures did not capture the full picture;
· The annual counts for rough sleeping was fundamentally flawed as it only included those engaging with services;
· There was the usual post-Christmas spike in the figures, but unlike in other years, there had not been a slump in the pre-Christmas period;
· There were more homeless people with complex needs;
· The annual social housing lettings had reduced;
· The Homelessness Strategy Partnership had been set up with partners to:
o bring people together to utilise energy and passion;
o identify main priority areas to align with the One City Plan:
1. Tackling rough sleeping;
2. Prevention and early intervention;
3. Improving health and wellbeing;
4. Delivering equality, diversity and inclusion in all services;
5. Working in partnership.
· There were a lot of different organisations trying to help homeless people in a variety of ways and the Partnership was trying to work with the organisations to ensure a more co-ordinated approach.
Board Members responded to the presentation as follows:
· The gap between social and affordable renting and home ownership was so great that people could not afford the move from one to the other and this was causing a shortage in this type of housing;
· Other suggested reasons were changes to universal credit; difficulties in getting a mortgage; increased migration to Bristol, including an increase in students with the expansion of Bristol University and discretionary licensing. PS questioned the impact of discretionary licensing as this had only come into force in pilot areas;
· The Council was looking to secure a relaxation in the criteria for extra care as there were vacancies in extra care and so encouraging people in would free up housing;
· Although it was good that there were a lot of organisations supporting homelessness, there was a problem with sharing myths and little co-ordination and there was a need to counter the misinformation on social media;
· As these organisations tended to provide food, bedding and tents they were not addressing the core issues or supporting homeless people in moving on;
· The Mayor had been leading an initiative to get the groups together to harness and focus the resource;
· There were concerns about sleep pods as they were difficult to carry around;
· The 365 project was a positive solution to providing shelter on a short term basis although it was acknowledged that shelters were not a long term solution.
On reflecting on what the Board could do to help, KP acknowledged that developers were disengaged from homelessness as an issue and asked what the sector could do to have the biggest impact. PS referred to the East Street Mews project led by Gavin Bridge of Cubex (Chair of LandAid’s South West Board), which was an initiative to create 11 apartments to provide affordable housing for young homeless people in Bristol. He recommended that KP contact Gavin Bridge with a view to getting involved in similar projects. It was also suggested that Developers could use corporate resources and volunteer time to work with St Mungo’s.
It was acknowledged that Developers such as the Vistry Partnership wanted to add social value and supported projects on a voluntary basis, but there should also be a requirement for Developers to contribute as part of the planning process.