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.

Peasholme Centre to tackle more challenging homeless cases

The Council is being asked to agree that in future the Peaseholme centre on Fishergate  accepts more challenging homeless cases.

In future “more chaotic/ high risk customers who are also vulnerable” may be directed to the centre and could remain there for longer period of time.

Details of the changes can be read by clicking here

The Council describes the services that it currently provides at the centre as “a supported accommodation centre for 22 people, staffed 24 hours a day. It is situated at 4 Fishergate and caters for single homeless men and women or couples without children.

The hostel is primarily referral based (from another project of self referrals). All offers of accommodation are subject to a risk assessment.

All residents are from York or have a local connection to York.

Residents are at a stage in their lives where they want to move towards more stable long-term accommodation options.
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Homeless numbers hit record low in York

The number of residents accepted in York as being “homeless” was down to 105 during the last financial year.

Homelessness peaked at 460 in 2003 and has fallen gradually each year since then.

On 31st March, 65 people were living in temporary accommodation – again an all time low.

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The figures have been published at a time when the Council will on Monday have its first public discussion on a decision made by the last Labour controlled Council to fit armrests on several City centre benches.  Initially the arm rest were welcomed particularly by the elderly and people with disabilities who found that the rests made it easier to get up from the seats.

The modification was agreed without consultation and in a “behind closed doors” decision typical of the way that the last Council did its business. It later emerged that the change was intended to prevent people lying down on the benches and had been targeted at “street drinkers”.

The new Council is right to debate the issue in public.  It is removes the armrests it will face criticism from disability campaigners. If it doesn’t,  it will be accused of targeting vulnerable homeless.

Rather more constructively the same meeting will also discuss refreshing the City’s “Homeless Strategy

NB Council house rent arrears gradually increased under the last Labour Council. The total amount owed went up from £431,231 in 2011/12 to £529,016 by the end of March 2015