UPDATE Controversy over homeless plan in residential area

UPDATE: We understand that this planning application is being withdrawn. We are happy to point out that the Restore charity rents an office at the Gateway Church premises on Front Street but is otherwise not connected with that organisation.

Councillors on 6th June will consider a planning application to convert a property in St Stephens Road into homeless accommodation.  

Four bedrooms in the semi-detached property will be let to individuals who are judged to be currently homeless. The application is associated with the Gateway Church in Acomb and is part of their “Restore” programme

St Stephens Road

It is unclear from where the clientele, intended to be accommodated there, will come from. A few years ago, a similar application to provide accommodation for former offenders in a property in  Tithe Close also raised concerns.

Several residents have objected to the plan which involves declaring the property a “House in Multiple Occupation” (HMO). HMOs have a long history of controversy in parts of York with family accommodation being converted to meet the demands of the City’s burgeoning student population.

Maintenance issues prompted the Council a few years ago to specify the maximum proportion of HMOS that there could be in a neighbourhood. This was an attempt to retain “balanced” communities”.

The number of HMOS in the St Stephens Road area – which is some distance from the nearest higher education facility – is not an issue. There is only one other property nearby which has the designation.

Rather residents concerns have focused on the transient nature of the likely occupants of the  property. They are concerned that few will stay long enough to become integrated into, what is, a tight knit community.

Of course, we will never “solve” the problem of homelessness if permanent accommodation options are not made available to those who fall on difficult times. So, initiatives like these are generally to be welcomed.

The charity operates outside the direct control of the local authority and therefore has a responsibility to be accountable to the local community.

The effectiveness of their management and communications is likely to be under scrutiny if the planning application is – as expected – approved.

Residents can attended and register to speak at the meeting taking place on 6th June.

Rough sleeping in York falls from 29 to nine people in 2018

The number of people sleeping rough in the city has reduced this year from 29 to nine, following work by City of York Council and partners.

In 2017, the official number was 29, in 2016 and 2015 it was 18. Work continues to reduce this number further and help more people off the streets into safer, more stable lives.

The count this year was conducted on 21 November into the early morning the following day. That night, all known locations where people sleep out and those reported to Streetlink were visited by officers from the Salvation Army and North Yorkshire Police.

For two months beforehand, information on people who beg, people who have accommodation and those who do not, had been gathered from the city’s agencies. The agencies met after the count to evaluate that information and the people found on the night. Actually six people were found sleeping rough on 21 November, but the agencies added to the list three more known rough sleepers who hadn’t been seen that night and who were known not to have taken up accommodation. The final figure of nine was verified independently by Homeless Link.

To support more rough sleepers off the streets, the council and charity Changing Lives opened 11 extra emergency beds ahead of the winter months this year giving the city a total 29 to match last year’s number of rough sleepers. Also, a new early help and prevention hub was opened by The Salvation Army in the summer at 63 Lawrence Street where any single person without a bed for the night should visit between 10am-midday.

To help address the complex reasons underlying rough sleeping, the council has secured £193,000 for 2018/19 to provide a more targeted and innovative approach, including additional support for those with mental health issues.

Anyone who sees someone sleeping rough can ring Streetlink on 0300 500 0194. This national helpline alerts local agencies to visit the location and offer support.

We encourage people not to give cash direct to those appearing to beg, but to contribute to personalised support for genuine rough sleepers by texting YORK35 £3 – or whatever sum they’d like to give – to 70070.

More rough sleeper beds available in York

More people sleeping rough in York can now safely bed down this winter as extra emergency beds are being offered whatever the weather until 28 February.

Earlier this year, senior councillors agreed that York should go above and beyond the national ‘severe weather scheme’. The 11 additional beds created bring the total emergency provision up to 29 beds. They are available in the winter months regardless of whether it’s freezing or not.

Besides these extra beds, the £193,000 extra funding secured for 2018/19 is also funding extra outreach workers to help rough sleepers address complex issues, especially around mental health.

Anyone found sleeping rough is encouraged to go to The Salvation Army’s new early intervention and prevention hub at 63 Lawrence Street, York YO10 3BU between 10am and 12 noon.

There, they will be allocated one of the city’s 29 emergency beds in keeping with the city’s No Second Night Out scheme. This means that no-one should have to sleep outside.

Five of the new emergency beds have been created at a council hostel and are being supported by volunteers from the YES Below Zero scheme. Rough sleepers’ dogs can also be brought into emergency accommodation – this has been the case since 2000.

People coming off the streets are placed in the city’s 101-bed supported lodgings. There, they are offered support and education to help address any of the issues that may have contributed to them becoming homeless. This includes referral to services for mental health or substance misuse and to train them for work and how to manage a tenancy.

Once that stage is successfully underway, they are allocated space in the city’s 90 independent accommodation units before, hopefully, supporting them into either private or affordable fully-independent homes.

Last year, we resettled 70 previously rough sleepers or single homeless people into permanent tenancies, and had 49 York households in our temporary accommodation – the lowest number since 2004.

New strategy for homelessness prevention in York

 Halving the number of rough sleepers and nearly £200,000 investment in our homelessness prevention work will be among the five priorities for the council’s new, five-year homelessness strategy.

Preventing Homelessness Together 2018-23 will be discussed by senior councillors on 21 June. It states a continued commitment to early help and prevention and outlines the council’s response to recent legislation.

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New ways to support rough sleepers year-round

 Big-hearted residents are being asked to consider year-round ways to support rough sleepers into safer more stable lifestyles.

The generosity of people to people sleeping outside at Christmas and this year’s snow has been overwhelming, say homeless charities and the council. This helped to continue work to ensure every rough sleeper is offered a bed and support into safer more stable lives. with the result that on 28 February, just five were sleeping outdoors.

The Salvation Army, Changing Lives, Carecent and Peasholme and other hostels have been flooded with donations of bedding, clothing, food, toiletries and gifts which have been given to people sleeping on the streets and to those who are setting up a new home.

Knowing that many people want to help people who are homeless year-round, the hostels and charities are suggesting some ideas to help support people off the streets:

Please offer your skills:

  • Volunteer with Changing Lives, Restore and Carecent or contact York CVS to offer your time and skills to help homeless people. Maybe you can cut hair or teach cookery, perhaps you could train someone in plumbing or teach guitar? Please contact the charities or York CVS at www.volunteeringyork.org.uk/, 15 Priory St, York, North Yorkshire YO1 6ET, tel: 01904 621 133

Please offer accommodation:

Please offer household goods:

  • Donate clean bedding, towels, toiletries and kitchen utensils to help people who are moving into accommodation. Please hand it in to Peasholme Centre, 4 Fishergate for distribution to York’s hostels.
  • Donate reusable furniture to York Furniture Store on 01904 426444, which helps homeless people furnish their homes. They’ll pick up items for free. http://communityfurniturestore.co.uk/wordpress/index.php?page_id=7
  • Donate food to York Foodbank tel or visit https://york.foodbank.org.uk/ or to Carecent call 01904 624244 or visit www.carecent.org.

Please offer to fundraise:

  • Fundraise or donate to recognised charities working with rough sleepers and homeless people. Changing Lives, Salvation Army,

Please help rough sleepers off the street:

  • Report the location of rough sleepers 24/7 to Streetlink on 0300 5000914 or www.streetlink.org.uk. Streetlink passes this information to The Salvation Army which regularly visits rough sleepers to help them into accommodation and safer, more stable lives.
  • Please urge them to go to our hostels. We will do our utmost to help them off the streets and into safer, more stable lives.

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Enhanced homeless scheme secures £2.4m grant

Two extra new apartments and replacement windows are among the enhancements to what is now a 57-unit temporary accommodation building in central York, for which the council has secured an additional £2.4m funding.The updated plans have factored in conditions attached to a £2.365m grant from Homes England (HE). This funding adds to a £10.5m budget already agreed by the council for the purchase and redevelopment of James House on James Street, as well as costs associated with closing and relocating existing temporary accommodation for homeless households.

This extra funding means a saving of £500,000 to the council. Senior councillors are being asked to approve the revised budget for James House of £12.4m, financed by £2.451m from Homes England and £9.949m from the Housing Revenue Account.

The specification of the conversion has increased. Two additional flats will be created, making a total of 57, and some others will be increased in size to meet national requirements and the criteria of the HE grant. In addition, an access road will be built and windows on the scheme will be renewed with double glazing and improved sound insulation.

Following approval by senior councillors on 16 March 2017, James House on James Street was bought and planning permission was submitted in early November 2017.

The self-contained flats will be owned and managed by City of York Council. James Street consolidates into one building much of the temporary accommodation for homeless people currently scattered across the city. It will also replace the accommodation at Ordnance Lane.

Exhibition for new single temporary accommodation site in York

Residents and business are being invited to see plans on 1st November for a single building to be converted to meet City of York Council’s accommodation requirements for temporarily homeless people.

Following approval by senior councillors on 16 March 2017, James House on James Street has been bought and is in the pre-planning stage.

Now, ahead of an application for planning permission being submitted in early November, residents are invited to see for themselves an exhibition of plans for the proposed 57 self-contained flats which will be owned and managed by City of York Council.

The project is being supported by a £2.365m grant from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

The plans aim to consolidate into one building, much of the accommodation for temporarily homeless people currently scattered across the city. It will also replace the accommodation at Ordnance Lane.

At James House, it’s proposed that the more-easily managed building will include a public reception, staff offices, interview rooms and a training kitchen. It will have council staff on site from 8am to 8pm seven days a week, and will have on-site security staff outside those times.

In addition to the formal planning application consultations, the public exhibition of the proposed scheme will be held on Wednesday 1 November between 9:30am and 3pm at the Raylor Centre, James Street, YO10 3DW which is next door to James House itself.

For more detail on the scheme, please email jameshouse@york.gov.uk

Numbers sleeping rough in York still too high

A council report reveals that the authority missed its target for reducing the numbers of rough sleepers in the City. It had hoped to reduce the number to no more than 12 but at the test date last November 18 were found on the streets. This was the same number as a year previously. (NB. Some rough sleepers refused offers of assistance)

There was better news for other classes of homeless, with the number accepted for rehousing being 97 in the year an improvement on the target of 100.

In addition, preventative work was undertaken in 752 cases.

The main reasons for people becoming homeless were:

  1. Parental exclusion / family licence terminations remain a major cause of homelessness
  2. The number of relationship breakdowns due to violence
  3. Homelessness because of the loss of Assured Shorthold Tenancies remains high.

The housing waiting list remains stable with, at 31/3/17, 1596 York people registered with North Yorkshire Home Choice.

306 Council houses became vacant last year in the City. 53 additional properties were built for social rent.

The report reveals that there are now 7 refugee Syrian families living in private rented accommodation in the City

The Council says that one of its housing priorities is to prioritise a “reduction in rough sleeping, street drinking and begging (in conjunction with Community Safety Hub) and explore need for day facilities and night shelter in light of rising numbers of rough sleepers and associated street drinking and begging”.

York homelessness services win gold standard award

 City of York Council’s services for preventing and managing homelessness are in the country’s top three and have been given the gold service standard.

funny_homeless_signs_32

The award was confirmed by the national governing body this week and York is the third local authority in England to ever win it.

The National Practitioner Support Service (NPSS) – funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government – has confirmed that the council has achieved the standard required. The Gold Standard can only be achieved by demonstrating that the service has a focus on early intervention and prevention of homelessness at its core.
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Giving direct to homeless charities is the best way to help those who beg in York

A homeless person begging A new campaign is asking kind-hearted residents and visitors in York to text £3 to local homeless charities which can help people off the streets and into safer and more stable lives, and not give cash direct to people who beg on the street.

The Salvation Army, Carecent, Arclight and Lifeline are four charities working with City of York Council, North Yorkshire Police and Make It York to make people aware that if they want to help those suffering hardship, the best way is by giving to the charities which can make a real, long-term difference.

just-text-giving-logoUsing the hashtag #NoNeedToBegYork, the campaign will share the message ‘Giving to those who beg won’t help, giving to charity will’ through a year-long campaign. An easy and safe way of giving to local homeless charities is being promoted and people who wish to help are asked to give £3 by texting ‘YORK33£3’ to ‘70070’.

This money will be shared with homeless charities including Carecent and The Salvation Army in York which can offer immediate practical support and longer term support to find a home, maintain a tenancy, training and finding employment, as well as supporting those with mental health or substance misuse issues.

To promote the message, the partnership has been given a stall at St Nicholas Fair in Coppergate by Make It York from 17 – 27 November. Staff from the charities will give out information on the work they do and take donations.

The partner charities confirm that well-meaning people who give their spare change to people who beg on the streets may not realise that this can be counter-productive. Giving direct to people who beg can prolong their situation and discourage them from seeking the right help and support.

They may not realise either that while there are some people in genuine need who beg in York, there are others who travel to the city to beg. These ‘professionals’ boast they can make up to £300 a day by preying on the kindness of York’s residents and visitors which is illegal.

There is about 18 rough sleepers in York at the moment, none of whom need to sleep out because the council and other services offer emergency accommodation to anyone from November to February. As usual at Christmastime, local services continue to provide meals and support for people who experience homelessness, including donated presents to help make the day special.

 

“Homeless charities and the council’s homeless services are best placed to support vulnerable people. By giving to local charities, you can be sure you will be making a real difference to the lives of those in genuine need.”

Members of the public who are concerned about individuals sleeping rough can ring 0300 500 0194, a national helpline which alerts local agencies to respond.

Donations from the public will be shared between:

  • Carecent, a York-based breakfast centre which provides food and clothing, support and advice
  • The Salvation Army’s Early Intervention and Prevention Team in York which identifies the needs of vulnerable people on the street immediately, providing services such as accommodation, health assessments and food
  • Arc Light, a charity that provides accommodation and support to homeless men and women in York.