News: Tackling Bristol’s homelessness crisis
Bristol City Council (BCC) has pledged to use a £2.5m funding injection to tackle the city’s increasing homelessness crisis.
The three-pronged approach will aim to address the root causes, take people off the streets quickly and offer a support service to a cohort of 125 rough sleepers who are currently being failed by the system.
Reporting a dramatic rise in the numbers of people forced to sleep out on the streets, Paul Smith, the cabinet member for housing, described some of the associated problems, such as drug and alcohol use, that are often brought about by homelessness.
“It does seem sometimes like we are trying to ladle the ocean with a spoon in terms of managing the homeless crisis,” Smith told a BCC cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
The funding has been secured from central Government as a result of three separate bids by the council and agency partners across the city and it is hoped the proposed programme will reform the response to homelessness.
A £925,000 grant for prevention will seek to identify those at risk of homelessness, trial early intervention action and focus on addressing root causes, with the aim of increasing the number of prevention cases by 20 per cent over two years.
A £382,866 rough sleepers grant will go towards helping more than 600 people avoid a night on the streets.
Smith said: “It’s about trying to ensure that as people come onto the streets, we take them off really quickly, hopefully within a night or two.
“Most people do not have mental health issues when they go on to the streets, but research suggests that after two or three weeks on the streets, they are likely to develop a drug or alcohol problem and/or mental health problems. Just because of the associated dangers and sheer indignity of it.
“If you are sleeping out for weeks, without feeling there is any end in sight, you often get to a position where it’s almost impossible for you to come in.”
A social impact bond of £1,125,000 will be allocated to tackle long-term rough sleeping in Bristol.
“It is looking at people who have been sleeping rough for a long time and find it difficult or quite frightening to come into accommodation available for them,” said Smith
“It’s about working the services around this so people will feel able to come back in.”
The social impact bond is a joint initiative of BCC and Safer Bristol and, following cabinet’s approval, a provider will now be procure to deliver a service to reduce rough sleeping.