During the covid-19 pandemic, the street homeless in Folkestone all but disappeared. The government funded a scheme called “Everyone In” which housed homeless people during the lockdown. But funding for the scheme stopped at the end of June. And many people remain homeless despite the scheme. However, street homelessness is just one part of a much larger equation.
Folkestone & Hythe District Council brought the homeless in and paid £25,061 pounds for Bed & Breakfast accommodation in April & May 2020 to house the homeless.
Now the pandemic is over, the homeless have been moved out of their temporary accommodation and are back on the streets of our communities once again.
It’s proposed that the draft homelessness prevention strategy be made available for an eight week consultation period. Following this, the document will be presented to Cabinet, along with a summary of the consultation feedback for final approval.
The proposed three key aims of the draft strategy are set out in section 7 of the draft strategy and are as follows:
To end Rough Sleeping
Early Intervention, Prevention & Support services for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
Continued work to maximise access to affordable & suitable accommodation
The number of rough sleepers over the last 10 years is as follows:
But rough sleepers are only the visible tip of homelessness in our district.
The number of 16-18 year olds approaching the council as homeless has increased by 54% between 2018 and 2019.
The number of households who approached the council for housing assistance due to becoming homeless due to fleeing domestic abuse, between April 1st 2019 and 31st March 2020, was approx 35.
The number of households who approached the Council for housing assistance were homeless due leaving HM Forces, or had a priority need due to having served in HM Forces, between April 1st 2019 and 31st March 2020, was approx 14.
In 2015, our Council agreed to house 10 families over 5 years from Syria via the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme. To date 8 Syrian families have been housed in the Folkestone & Hythe area, leaving a further 2 families to be resettled here from Syria from the original programme. The Council has also agreed to rehouse another 2 families in 2020 and 2 more each year thereafter.
Then there are the Gypsies & Travellers. Just recently at the Planning Committee, they voted unanimously to allow the construction of access road and the provision of 5 static mobile homes and a community hall at The Retreat, Lydd Road, Old Romney, to provide accommodation as a traveller’s site.
The Council have done much as they have evidenced, but much more needs to be done. Once the draft strategy goes to consultation, then you the people and organisations who help those less fortunate, will we hope, be able to have your say.
The pandemic has shown us we can house rough sleepers and end this problem. However, they are just one part of the homelessness issue. We have a long way to go if we wish to resolve the others issues. We have shown we can bring “everyone in” when needed. Let’s hope the council’s ambition will be matched by their commitment to reduce the numbers of homeless; and bring more people in.
The Shepwayvox Team
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