Housing service is helping keep homeless people off the streets

The project is supporting people across South Tyneside.
The project is supporting people across South Tyneside.

Housing bosses in South Tyneside are keeping people who suddenly find themselves homeless off the streets.

South Tyneside Council’s Homefinder service – with the help of cash from the Department of Communities and Local Government – has allowed the council to provide help and support for vulnerable single homeless people and those in private hostel accommodation.

Coun Allan West.

Coun Allan West.

The project provides outreach work carried out by charity Changing Lives and aims to reduce cyclical homelessness and encourage homeless people to engage with local service providers.

In the first six months, 22 people were supported and able to secure their own tenancy.

This proactive approach means that the council intervenes to stop households becoming homeless before the situation gets to crisis point.

Coun Allan West, lead member for housing and transport at South Tyneside Council, said: “Homelessness is not just about people sleeping rough on the streets.

“It is rarely simple and rarely just about housing. Our Homefinder service takes a holistic approach by addressing all the other complex issues that often come hand in hand with homelessness – substance abuse, health problems, debts and caring responsibilities.

“While the number of homeless people in South Tyneside is lower than national and regional averages, there is still room for improvement. No one should be without a roof over their heads in our borough.”

In the last five years there has been a 37 per cent reduction in the number of people presenting themselves as homeless in South Tyneside.

Coun West added: “We take a collaborative approach. Through our homelessness forum, which involves landlords, public health and other organisations, we are committed to working in partnership to tackle this issue, share good practice and support people at risk of homelessness.”

Stephen Bell, chief executive of Changing Lives, said: “Our work in South Tyneside is based on the Housing First model, which moves the homeless person into hostel accommodation or their own property straight from the streets. We believe that Housing First works and that the council is to be commended for adopting it.

“The model is in contrast to many other programmes which adopts a ‘housing readiness’ approach, meaning any other issues an individual has have to be tackled before they are deemed ready to be housed.”