2 Prevention What Councils say There has been a culture change; homelessness can be prevented by early interventionStaff “preventing” homelessness now outnumber those “processing” homelessnessEach household’s circumstance is different – and calls for a different responseMost Councils now have a Toolkit of Housing Options and Prevention measures which also reach beyond the statutory homeless and are available to help more peopleVirtually all Welsh and English Councils have set up options teams
3 Key Messages from English Councils Get your allocations schemes rightTake a critical look at your structure and first contact processesHome Visits backed with optionsUse HB BetterHave responses for each of your main causesHave a Prevention Fund
4 Homeless Acceptances England The number of new cases of homelessness has fallen since the beginning of I’ll mention later the reason for this.Latest statistics published 12 March show a continuing decrease in homelessness with 17,310 homelessness acceptances by local authorities between October and December 2006 – 18% lower than in the same period in 2005 and the lowest quarterly value since the early 1980s;
5 Administer Homelessness Differently…Stop Fire fighting Understand causes of local homelessnessUnderstand where the front line in prevention really is – it’s not the Town HallHave the right people in the right place doing the right things at the right timeTo be able do the right things calls for a comprehensive Options and Prevention Toolkit
8 Structure of ServiceService is geared to early intervention and a personal options/prevention response with staff at all three levels having access to a Toolkit
9 Local Authority Survey of Homelessness Prevention 2007 71% of Local authorities have more staff preventing homelessness than in 2006Less than 4% have more staff processingTotal number of preventions was 49,227 for 2005/6Projected increase to 71,903 in 2006/732% increase
10 Most successful prevention measure key findings from Councils 52% say rent deposit schemes41% mediation32% advice on housing options30% dialogue with landlords32% local authorities have more staff preventing homelessness (65% 2005)30% home visits
11 Getting a new Structure Right Lessons Learnt Inexperienced Options OfficersPoor FilteringLack of clarity of RolesGeneric options/prevention/Assessment or individual rolesRole of Admin supportLinks between Homeless team and allocations especially in stock transfer LAsSome areas need dedicated resources such as rent deposit schemes and temporary accommodation.Lack of processes and procedures
12 Get in Early Use the time line to prevent homelessness Incident 1 Incident Notice Notice ends Court BailiffI________________I____________ I____________________I_______________I_____________I? weeks weeks weeks weeks weeksYou can prevent homelessness here Too late now
13 How is homelessness being prevented by Councils Cause of homelessnessAction to prevent homelessnessParents, relatives or friends exclusions, relationship breakdownMediation/counselling, home visitsViolent relationship breakdownSanctuary schemesEnd of assured shorthold tenancyAdvice, landlord mediation/ negotiation, rent deposit/bondMortgage or rent arrearsDebt counselling, advocacy in court, resolving HB problemsPerson poorly-equipped to sustain tenancyAdvice and support (Supporting People), life skills, budgetingLack of informationEarly, proactive intervention, advice and good range of optionsThey have looked at the main causes of Homelessness and devised bespoke prevention and options schemes to tackle these.
14 The Prevention and Options Toolkit Who needs and should understand the Toolkit?Using the Basic Toolkit on your home visit?What is in your full Toolkit? (A response to all the local causes of homelessness)
15 The Prevention and Options Toolkit Who needs to know what? Basic knowledgeYour own Reception or Call Centre Staff (Switchboard?)Housing Register staffEstate Office (including RSL) Reception staffHousing Benefits StaffLocal Lettings Agents and key landlordsRelevant voluntary agenciesMembersComprehensive knowledgeHousing AdvisersPrevention OfficersVisiting Officers and Estate Managers (local Lettings Agents and Key Landlords?)Visiting Officers from Housing BenefitsAssessment OfficersCAB or other relevant Voluntary Agencies
16 The Full Toolkit Who needs to know? The following will need comprehensive knowledge of the full ToolkitHousing AdvisersPrevention OfficersVisiting Officers; housing needs and estate managers for RSLs or CouncilAssessment OfficersCAB or other relevant Voluntary Organisations (Shelter , BOND) supporting your prevention work
17 The Basic Toolkit for the Home Visit Home Visits are EssentialFamily or Friend ExclusionsEnd of Tenancy (Social and AST) where Tenant’s acts or omissions are cause of homelessnessAll cases where homelessness is not threatened within 28 daysFor other potential Exclusions where there are vulnerable members of the householdHome Visits are EssentialFor any potential Exclusions where it is uncertain if applicant can sustain a tenancyLandlord/Agent VisitsAlso desirable where it is believed Landlord is selling, converting or moving inNB Prior risk assessment needed for all home visits even to landlords
18 The Case for Home Visits A replacement kitchen sink with earth bonding, tiling costs less than £400No landlord would remove and replace a kitchen sink on the basis of a letter, a phone call or an interviewDo potentially homeless households deserve a lesser response?
19 Home Visits key issuesPURPOSEVerification of client’s household and circumstancesUnderstanding applicant and excluder needs and expectationsExplanation of relevant housing options and outcomesNegotiation/Agreement on personal re-housing plan or tenancy sustainmentAgreement on who does what and by whenGiving clients confidenceQUESTIONS FOR VISITOR“Is there risk or benefit in trying to sustain present arrangements?”“Can the applicant manage their own tenancy?”“What can I do to prevent homelessness re-occurring?”“Is there any value in professional mediation?”“What have I got in my Toolkit to help this situation?” (prevention fund?)
20 Essential Toolkit for home visits “The Knowledge” of Allocations Scheme and waiting times for lettingsof all the local Housing Options Available, Deposits, Direct Lettingsof likely waiting times for Optionsof TA options and length of stay in TAof Housing Benefit rules
21 Essential Toolkit for home visits “Authority” to spend Homeless Prevention Fund and DHPto approve access to Mediation Servicesto offer Rent Deposit Schemesto offer Direct Landlord Lettingsto provide Tenancy Rescue or Support Servicesto offer respite housing arrangements
22 Essential Toolkit for home visits Skills (probably the most important) To Listen to the excluder and our clientTo Understand their needs and expectationsTo verify and assess housing needTo prevent homelessness and offer a personal re-housing plan
23 The Full Toolkit should support Options and Prevention work in the home or in the office Responses needed for threat of homelessness caused byDebtProblems in the home (people not getting on)ViolenceDischarge from institutions
24 Full Toolkit – tackling loss of ASTs. Get to the bottom of the problem I want to put the rent upI want him outI don’t want to manage the property any moreI am fed up with his rent being lateMy lender has told me to stop lettingLandlord: ‘Well actually, I don’t really want to sell…
25 The Full Toolkit; Housing Benefits and their contribution Strong partnership working with Benefits Do HB notify the Prevention Team of cases where benefits may be stopped or suspended? How do they deal with Regulation 7Access to DHP Most boroughs don’t spend their allocationFacility to backdate Arrangements for interruption to tenancy caused by custodial sentence, hospital admission, domestic violenceDo HB train Options Staff on the key HB rules as they impact on homelessness?Is there access to a fast track HB officer?Is HB’s performance helping or hindering preventionIs there a corporate commitment from HB to help prevent homelessness“
26 The Full Tool Kit Exclusions linked to violence What responses have you for Domestic Violence? Sanctuary Scheme, Respite housing, Rehousing. Refuges On-LineAre women given the choice of staying in their home or returning to their home?Who are your partners? Landlords, Police, Fire Service, Womens Aid, A&E, LSC franchisesDo all social landlords operate a common response?What Responses do you have for Hate Crime or Neighbour Harassment? Sanctuary Scheme, Respite housing, Rehousing.Are victims given the choice of staying in their home or returning to their home?Who are your partners? Landlords, Police, Fire Service, Community Groups LSC franchises?Do all social landlords operate a common response?
27 The Full Tool Kit Reponses to Youth Homelessness Do you know your levels of year old acceptances? 9% of all acceptances nationally (ranging from .2% to 30%)Have you identified schools that “generate” presentations? Estimated that 90% of these young people were previously excluded from school? (Source NCH)Assessment Arrangements? Do they work? In house? “Protocols”, Contracted out to specialists?Who are your partners in early intervention? Connexions, Local Youth Agencies (YMCA, Llamau, Centre-point)What options do you have for 16/17s What do you have - Respite Accommodation, Supported lodgings, NOAH schemes, FoyerAre options linked to training? Do schools and Connexions support your options?If you use the worst option of all, B&B –what support is given?Mediation?
28 The Full Toolkit and Young People Mediation or Home Visits? Unless there is clear history of violence, home visits are crucial to assess need and scope for mediationSpecialist Youth Agencies generally interact better with young people. Do yours visit?Many Agencies can mediate and have respite or move-on housing options themselves; Llamau, YMCA, Barnardos, Foyer
29 Tool kit for “institutional homelessness” Prison Discharges; what arrangements are in place with Solicitors, NOMS and Prisons?Hospital Discharges; what arrangements are in place with your local PCT?Care Leavers; what arrangements are in place with Social Services?When reviewing your Homeless Strategy ensure these agencies are part of your tool kitWe’ll just drop you at the HPU, mateI mean, they wouldn’t just put me on the street, my Probation Officer knows I need a place
30 Tool kit for Debt Early intervention in all Tenures What response do you (or Benefits) offer for for Council, RSL and Private Landlords orAgents?Is money advice given at Tenancy start up in all tenures?At what point does the Options Prevention Service get to hear of potential exclusions from all sectors?Have you a Prevention Fund to help head off problems?Do CAB or other voluntary agencies know about your HPF and DHP?Do the Courts, Lenders, Agents and Landlords know about your Options and Prevention approach?Don’t worry about this month’s rent, Chantelle. I’m sure the Council will help