Members of the Homelessness and Housing Delivery Task Group have also been invited to the meeting for this item.
Members of the Homelessness and Housing Delivery Task Group had been invited to the meeting for this item.
The Assistant Director and Housing Strategy Officer provided Members with an update on Homelessness and the Action Plan, as attached.
The Chair thanked the officers for the report and invited questions and comments. He also thanked all those involved in the service for a fantastic job.
Councillor Kemp addressed the Panel under Standing Order 34. She made reference to barriers to housing, mental health issues and justice leavers. She also hoped that the computers in Kings Court would be reinstated to assist people in making an application for housing. The Assistant Director explained that work was being carried out with Norfolk County Council on a long term strategy for key groups including those with mental health issues.
Councillor Rust, Member of the Homelessness Task Group commended the support provided, congratulated officers and felt that there was now much less disconnect between organisations. She explained that there were still homeless people in the town centre and she asked how long it took from people presenting as homeless to them being accommodated. The Housing Strategy Officer explained that the Council worked with Purfleet Trust and the aim was to arrange accommodation within three days, however it was done quicker where possible and emergency accommodation was used at the weekend.
Councillor Rust referred to the waiting list for the night shelter and it was explained that people were prioritised based on risk. There were only nine beds available at the night shelter as each unit was separate due to Covid. Previously 23 beds had been available. It was noted that the waiting list was the night shelter waiting list and not the Council waiting list.
Councillor Bambridge, Member of the Homelessness Task Group commended the work being carried out and noted that it was good to see Housing Associations involved. She asked what happened to people who were non UK residents and did not have settled status and justice leavers. The Assistant Director explained that Housing Associations had been a key part of the response and solution and had been very supportive. He noted that non UK residents was an emerging issue and public funding could not be used to support this, however charitable and voluntary organisations could assist. The Housing Strategy Officer informed the Panel that funding had been received for a support worker to support Justice leavers to help access accommodation and the post for support worker had been commissioned to Shelter.
Councillor Bullen thanked officers for their work and made reference to cross authority border issues and people presenting as homeless from other areas. The Housing Strategy Officer explained that mainly people who presented as homeless were from the Borough, but there had been a small increase of people from outside the Borough.
In response to a question from Councillor Bullen it was explained that if Councillors were aware of people presenting at homeless they should contact the Council using the details available on the website at https://www.west-norfolk.gov.uk/info/20229/homeless_or_at_risk_of_being_homeless/790/homeless_and_nowhere_to_stay
Councillor Morley, Member of the Homelessness Task Group, praised the work of officers. He referred to the action plan and noted that it did not include the emerging challenges and he did not want to lose sight of them. He also made reference to Delta. The Housing Strategy Officer explained that the action plan would be updated and incorporate emerging issues as well as links to the Norfolk County Council strategies relating to Domestic Abuse and Homelessness.
Regarding data collection, it was explained that information was fed into Delta, but it was also important that the Council kept their own local data.
Councillor Morley made reference to the revisions to the Corporate Plan and encouraged officers to feed into this process to highlight and concerns and barriers.
RESOLVED: That the Environment and Community Panel support that work continues to implement the strategy and action plan, as updated, because it has worked – and focus on solutions for those remaining and emerging challenges highlighted in the report. To continue the role of the Homelessness and Housing Supply Group to receive more detailed information and updates and monitor progress of the strategy.