Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) is set to undertake a review of its accommodation requirements for homeless and rough sleeping provision.
The Council wants to evaluate resources and demand to ensure it can provide enough accommodation to work to end homelessness and rough sleeping in the district in line with its corporate priority for homes and communities.
Executive members have approved a proposal to undertake an options appraisal and report back with recommendations. The appraisal will consider all options and sites with the aim of providing more accommodation and support to the homeless and rough sleeping population.
An integral part of any recommendation would be to seek a ‘hub’ solution so that support services are close to residents building on joined-up partnership working the Council has established with the YMCA, ARC, Social Care, Public Health, the Probation Service, the NHS Somerset Partnership, Turning Point, the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Second Step, the Salvation Army, Open Door and local church, voluntary and community groups.
The proposal sets out an ambition to adopt a new voluntary responsibility to house a greater number of rough sleepers than the council has a statutory duty to accommodate.
This would approximately double the number of single homeless which SWT is seeking to accommodate directly or through partners, and is a big step towards helping the Council meet the government’s objective to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end rough sleeping by 2027.
This approach would also ensure the council could provide enough accommodation to avoid returning rough sleepers accommodated under the government’s ‘Everyone In’ Covid-19 directive back to the streets.
Executive Member for Housing, Cllr Fran Smith, said: “SWT is committed to providing more housing options for all members of the community in line with our belief that fundamentally, no-one should be without a place they can call home.
“We want to ensure we have the right provision in place to prevent homelessness whenever we can and to help people faced with homelessness and sleeping rough to access suitable accommodation with extra support tailored to individual circumstances.
“This appraisal gives us a chance to review our provision and build on our partnership working to make a real difference to the quality of life for some of our most vulnerable residents.”
Further work outside of this appraisal is also taking place to consider future provision for homeless families.