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New council strategy hopes to combat 'rising' rough sleeping problem

PUBLISHED: 19:27 04 December 2019 | UPDATED: 21:12 04 December 2019

Colchester Borough Council is expected to announce new plans to combat rising homelessness in the borough  Picture: VICTORIA JONES/PA WIRE

Colchester Borough Council is expected to announce new plans to combat rising homelessness in the borough Picture: VICTORIA JONES/PA WIRE

PA Wire/PA Images

Colchester Borough Council is expected to agree a new set of plans to combat the housing crisis and rising number of homeless people in the area.

The plan, which will run from 2020 to 2025, will be raised in Thursday's borough council meeting, following a consultation held with charity Homeless Link in January, which saw 12 people who have experienced homelessness interviewed about their experiences.

It includes a rough sleeping strategy aimed at preventing homelessness and providing accommodation and support for people who are or may become homeless.

The plan follows the council's previous strategy published in 2014, which portfolio holder for housing Adam Fox said has made "significant progress", while admitting there is "much more to do" to combat a rise in rough sleepers and a demand for social housing which outweighs supply.

Among the reasons listed for the rise was welfare reforms, with the council fully spending their discretionary housing payments fund in 2018/19 in a bid to remove the risk of tenants becoming homeless.

There were 20 people at risk of or currently rough sleeping rehoused or supported between November 2017 and July 2018 thanks to a rough sleeping co-ordinator, who will continue to be funded by the government via a government initiative.

The council hope to finance the new strategy through existing budgets, while utilising £605,583 of government funding secured through government streams since 2017.

It is hoped the new strategy will help improve the health or wellbeing for not only those currently experiencing homelessness, but also those who have in the past.

The agenda notes read: "Research has shown that homelessness and rough sleeping can have a detrimental impact on people's health and wellbeing and this was also highlighted in the review of homelessness in Colchester.

"The new Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy has acknowledged these factors and identified actions that can help to improve the health of people that are or have experienced homelessness."

The borough's population is expected to grow from 190,098 in 2017 to 216,300 by 2030, prompting the council to be "committed" to building 18,400 new dwellings by 2033.

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