Addressing homelessness and rough sleeping in Norwich
Addressing homelessness and rough sleeping in Norwich

Fourteen years of Tory failure has seen a a chronic shortage of decent affordable housing, an unprecedented cost of living crisis and a failure to end no-fault evictions. This has pushed more and more people across the country into rough sleeping and homelessness.

Labour-run Norwich City Council, working with partners, has managed to oppose national and regional trends to see an 80% decrease in rough sleeping numbers in the city since 2016.

At Tuesday’s full council meeting, Cllr Beth Jones (cabinet member for housing and communities) answered questions from Labour colleagues interested to know more about the council’s approach to tackling this issue.

Cllr Martin Peek (Wensum) asked:

“Given the importance of building accommodation to tackle homelessness, and particularly rough sleeping, can the cabinet member for housing and community safety comment on the record of the administration and whether she feels this goes far enough?”

Cllr Beth Jones responded:

“The council is steadfast in its commitment to addressing homelessness and rough sleeping through new initiatives and effective collaborations. I’m pleased to report that we have successfully secured Rough Sleeper Accommodation funding in the majority of government funding rounds, taking a proactive approach to securing resources for critical projects. Collaborations with housing association partners have yielded tangible results for vulnerable clients, including six new flats at Webster Court, seven homes at Ketts Hill, specialist Housing First accommodation for young people, and plans to deliver 12 homes at Netherwood Green.

Additionally, the council maintains a commitment to Housing First principles, providing 16 dedicated properties for clients transitioning directly from the streets. The allocation of revenue funding, alongside the capital funding required to build the new homes has meant that individuals at risk of rough sleeping have benefited from a wide range of support. This helps to break the cycle of entrenched rough sleeping and gives people the best chance of a better life. By seeking out and applying for relevant funding streams, the council is continually responding to the evolving needs of the community. Furthermore, the focus on general needs through our partnerships including the Norwich Orwell Partnership, Lion Homes, and engaging with private developers underlines the council’s commitment to those in housing need.”

Cllr Keith Driver (Lakenham) asked:

“Homelessness has sharply risen across Britain since 2010 and I am aware that this council has taken significant steps to tackle it. I was therefore surprised to see the City Council being accused of having an “inhumane” policy with regards to this. Does the cabinet member for social housing agree with this accusation?”

Cllr Beth Jones responded:

“Our approach to dealing with rough sleeping in Norwich is person focused, compassionate and successful. Our services work with the client to understand their needs and wishes, ensuring that we have the right provision and support in place to help them off the streets. The council has a specialist team dedicated to assist rough sleepers, supporting Pathways Norwich, the outreach service, working with church partners to deliver a winter shelter for people who would otherwise be sleeping rough from November to March. We are the only local authority in the area to provide a winter shelter for people who would otherwise be sleeping rough. This is in addition to the 500+ beds available through the city’s hostel system. Many of those sleeping on the streets have complex needs and may be entrenched. Accessing the winter shelter is often the first step toward building relationships with the help and resources we have available. Our approach is successful. The annual DLUHC (Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) verified rough sleeping count shows an 80 percent decrease in rough sleeping numbers in Norwich since 2016, opposed to national and regional patterns. The latest figures, due for release in February, will show a further reduction. We will continue our efforts to develop our services for those in the greatest need. I have confidence that this will ensure we and our valued partners are able to provide the best support for people sleeping rough in Norwich.”


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