Action plan promises more help for the homeless

January 16, 2009 11:11 AM
Catherine Smart

Cllr Catherine Smart - building on success

Cambridge Liberal Democrats are building on their success of tackling homelessness with a new action plan.

Over the last five years, the number of homeless and people sleeping rough in the city has more than halved and the new Homelessness Strategy aims to further reduce and prevent the problem.

The new strategy will aim to identify innovative ways of tackling homelessness and its causes.

The possibility of a new One-Stop health centre is to be explored which could involve joint working by drug, alcohol and mental health services.

There will be help for families in a bid to prevent them from being evicted from their homes when they fall behind with their mortgage payments.

And there will be support for the ex-homeless to hold onto their tenancies to stop the "revolving door" of people going in and out of homelessness.

The new action plan aims to cut down further the use of temporary accommodation including transforming Jimmy's Night Shelter into a full-time assessment centre.

Executive councillor for housing, Catherine Smart said: "We have achieved real success in helping families, the single homeless and rough sleepers in the last few years under two separate strategies. But we found there was a lot over overlap, so we have brought the two together under one plan which we are confident will lead to even greater success.

"This new strategy identifies positive actions the city council can take to further address the issue of homelessness and help some of the most vulnerable people in our city."

In the last few years the city council has achieved notable successes including:

* A reduction in the number of people in temporary accommodation from 140 in December 2004 to 93 in September 08.

* A complete end to families being put in temporary accommodation with shared kitchens and bathrooms.

* An agreement to allow the Cambridge Law Centre to give specialist housing advice.

* The Sanctuary Scheme to help those suffering domestic violence.

* The Leica Project for vulnerable young people.

* New learning and development centre to help former homeless people get back into mainstream living and working.

Cllr Smart added: "There is still a great deal of work to be done but we are proud of our achievements so far and know that we can do more to help these people."

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