Witney News - Major council scheme aims to prevent homelessness

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Major council scheme aims to prevent homelessness

A major new scheme designed to tackle homelessness in West Oxfordshire has been given the green light.

The Families First project will work with families and couples in a bid to prevent homelessness happening in the first place.

The move is in response to a change in the reasons for homelessness occurring in the District.

New figures show that between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2017, of 106 homelessness applications received by the Council, 42 per cent were due to parents or relatives no longer being willing to accommodate adult children, while a further 21 per cent were a result of the breakdown of relationships.

Both of these reasons increased during the two-year period.

The Families First project will employ a dedicated project officer to work with families where there is a risk of homelessness occurring.

Funding will also be provided for family / relationship counselling and possible accommodation adaptations to allow different generations to share property more comfortably.

Cllr Jeanette Baker, Cabinet Member for Communities said: This scheme focuses on early intervention and long-term support which we know from experience plays an important role in preventing homelessness. I fully support this proactive project as it will offer specialist help for all those facing difficulties.”

Families First will be funded by the Flexible Homelessness Support Grant which the Government introduced on 1 April following the removal of the Temporary Accommodation Management Fee.
The Council will receive £72,545.98 from the Grant in 2017-18 and £83,471.20 in 2018-19.

As well as Families First, the Council, along with partner authorities Cotswold District Council and Forest of Dean District Council, will pool £40,000 a year from the Grant to fund the appointment of a Joint Housing Property Manager and a Joint Private Rented Sector Liaison Manager to help ensure as much accommodation is made available as possible and cut waiting lists.

A Private Rented Sector Fund will also be set up to loan residents’ fees such as cash deposits, fees and payment of rent in advance as well as helping make accommodation habitable.

Cllr Colin Dingwall, Cabinet Member for Housing at West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “As a council we have a statutory responsibility to help the homeless but this new scheme is designed to prevent it happening at the outset.

“Families living in the District are under increasing pressure when it comes to accommodation due to high house prices and population growth and Families First will be a key part of our efforts to tackle homelessness.”

Posted : 22/09/2017 19:28:51

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