The forum is to increase awareness and understanding of homelessness and vulnerability and encourage partnership working across all sectors. Members shall share experiences and work collectively to help support and improve services for those at risk of being made homeless and those who are currently experiencing homelessness in Gloucester and the wider area.
Gloucester Faith & Voluntary Community Sector Homeless Forum
Extract of Meeting as follows:- Meeting: Cabinet Date:11 September 2019 Subject: Financial Monitoring - Quarter 1, 2019/20 Report Of: Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources Wards Affected: All Key Decision: No Budget/Policy Framework: No Contact Officer: Jon Topping, Head of Policy & Resources Email:email@example.com Tel: 396242 Appendices: 1.Progress against savings targets 2. Capital monitoring.
Agenda Item 6.0 Communities and Neighbourhoods Communities and Neigbourhoods19/20 Budget Actual Year End Forecast Final Variance Voluntary Sector Grants13515130(5) Community Strategy and Other Projects1456617732 Homelessness1,174(184)1,174(0) Shopmobility761752(24) Health and Safety3(1)(1)(4) Private Sector Housing(73)(57)(62)11 Total1,460(144)1,470106.1
This portfolio is currently forecasting to achieve its budgeted targets.
6.2 The Council continues to experience significant costs in relation to the placing of homeless families in temporary accommodation; many of whom have complexneeds. This is largely due to a general shortage of social rented housing or affordable rented housing. These increased costs are partly recoverable through the housing benefit system and positive steps have been taken to ensure that the amounts recovered are being maximised.
6.3 During Q1 the Council has taken positive steps to reduce this temporary accommodation cost by entering into a loan and grant arrangement to allow Cheltenham YMCA to buy properties at Potters Place which are subject to a Nominations Deed between the Council and the YMCA for the placement of homeless people. This is forecast to reduce the homelessness costs from Q3 onwards and allow this service to meet its budget.
6.4 A flexible homelessness prevention grant has been received from Government and much of this will be used to fund the in-year costs, as well as to further develop alternative sources of temporary accommodation provision to reduce pressures in the longer term.
St Michael's House, Gloucester
Supported accommodation in the centre of Gloucester
St Michael’s House was opened in May 2015, with funding from Gloucester City Council, the Homes & Communities Agency and a very generous grant from the Summerfield Charitable Trust. This was the YMCA’s first supported housing project in Gloucester City centre. Accommodation comprises 16 fully furnished, en suite rooms, with 4 or 6 rooms sharing a communal kitchen area.
Working in close partnership with Gloucester City Council, St Michael’s is home to those who have been identified as most in need of safe and secure accommodation.
Personal development plan
The small staff team works closely with each resident, together developing a personal plan which focuses on gaining the necessary skills to move from the YMCA into fully independent accommodation in the community. Being a small project, the environment is friendly and welcoming, with each individual being encouraged to belong, contribute and thrive.
The importance of St Michael’s House and its impact on the lives of individuals can be clearly seen from various testimonials that have been received.
"Over the past 5 years I have endured accommodation of a poor standard... When I was referred to St Michael’s House and visited for the first time, it was like a five star home and I can honestly say it feels like a home I can be proud of."
"For the first time in a long time I was able to undertake household chores by doing my own washing, keeping my room tidy and personal hygiene. These are things I had no previous motivation for."
"There have been times I have felt unsure but [the staff] always cheer me up by praising me."
"When I first moved to the YMCA I was very timid and unsure what I would do with my life. I am still a little timid but thanks to [the staff] and the residents I don’t avoid shared areas anymore."
How to get help
If you, or someone that you know, is experiencing homelessness or living in unsuitable accommodation and you think they can benefit from the support and safety that living at the YMCA can provide, please contact The Homelessness Team at Gloucester City Council on 01452 396396 in the first instance.
Click here for details of organisations that can provide emergency help and support.
Alabare Homes for Veterans, latest Summer Newsletter.... Gloucestershire Home for Veterans had the priveledge of welcoming the Commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, Lieutant General Timothy Radford.
Cabinet: We hope that you will find the written response of the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods to a public question at Cabinet on the 13th June concerning homelessness and vulnerable people as helpful and informative...please read HERE. The Forum and Healthwatch have raised major concerns with poor and unsafe emergency accomodation over the last few years. The Forum has encouraged the City and County Council to talk to Pivotal Homes as one way forward; adopt a Landlord Registration Scheme (see City Council Letter) .....etc...watch this space.
GlosLive Article: 'Shocking figures reveal that 43 people took their own lives in Gloucester in the past year. Read article HERE..... It comes after the news of eight deaths in a Dorchester House, a hostel used by the council, during 2017'.
Karen Buck's Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill 2017-19 is seeking to amend relevant sections of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 by extending its obligations to ..... The tenant can sue the landlord in court.
Great News. GCM/Emmaus Winter Provision. Councils 'fears' unfounded. Four people helped to get a more permanaent place to stay including supported accomodation. Dave Kinghorn, Manager of GCM said in Citizen article, January 11th 2018, 'We want to work with people to find better alternatives than living on the streets or in winter shelters'.
Great News: 13th Dec 2017. We applaud Gloucester City Council for approving the planning application by Emmaus/GCM for a Winter Provision for the homeless. Thanks to all who prayed for success of the application. The Forum gave their unanimous support and approval as minuted back at the Forums meeting of the 6th Dec 2016, agenda item 4.2. For access to the Councils planning portal click HERE for letters of support and one objection from the City Council. Link to City Council web page with response, click HERE. We hear what the City Council say in their objection and note their concerns, we would like to talk with the Council about their 'fears', how informed are these 'fears'. Also concerns that the City Council appears to have a certain lack of awareness of the bigger picture....We would agree with Cllr Kathy Williams, cabinet member for long term care at Gloucestershire County Council, said: "We’re aware that the current services aren’t reaching everyone and that we need to do more to help those who have been rough sleeping or homeless for a long time'. The Forum would support Cllr Colin Organ, cabinet member for housing and planning at Gloucester City Council, in that we all need to work together. The Forum shall be looking to arrange a meeting with the City Council to follow up the above.
Welcomed News. The Winter Provision for rough sleepers will be opening tonight, Friday 5th Dec, at the George Whitefield Centre on Great Western Road, every night until the end of March. Dave Kinghorn says 'thank you to all who have supported, advised and worked on this project. Special thanks as always to Emmaus Gloucestershire, their support is valued and appreciated. If you see somoene rough sleeping point them our way!'
A reported worrying increase in evictions from County Council run supported housing (ABS). There is a 6 week period where those evicted are not allowed back, so where do they go? onto the streets to sleep rough, where else. Please refer them to Streetlink, who inform the Outreach Team now P3, who go out to find them on the streets, and then back into START,....... there must be a better way... very inefficient use of scarce resources. We will contact Oonagh at the County Council to first assess extent. Raised at the last Forum Meeting that this is not good enough, risk to life, unsafe practice, where did 6 weeks come from?...; all agreed unacceptable. Worryingly, there was found to be a lack of coordination and notification between services when a person is evicted. Being followed up. Report of one person being evicted onto the streets because he was seen with a knife,..... he was self harming. Lived in a tent down Westgate, a very chaotic young man with mental health problems. He survived because he had a hope that one day he would get to see his children.
Question at Council Meeting from Steve Gower....Please find below answers from the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning to your questions you raised at the last Council meeting. It might be advisable to ask the woman you were representing to get in touch with the Housing department to look at her case. The number of homeless families has been defined this as households with 1 or more children or pregnant households in temporary accommodation. 1. 130 Families ..Total of 81 Families in Temporary Accommodation at present, this includes B&B’s, hostels, refuge and accommodation within GCH stock...49 Accepted as homeless but have made their own arrangements (e.g. staying with family and friends)...2. If we have a duty to provide interim accommodation to a homeless family we are placing them as far as Bristol due to shortages of temporary accommodation in the City. This is only ever a last resort and every effort is made to return the households to Gloucestershire asap....3. The longest wait someone had was 13 months but the shortest was 3 weeks. The length of time it takes for a household to be rehoused very much depends on where the applicants are bidding (if they are bidding), what type of property they need, what areas they are bidding in, and availability of properties etc.. 2b – average 4 1/2 months on HS+..3b – average 7 months...4b – average 10 months...5b – no data
The Forum and Healthwatch have major concerns about the poor quality of emergency B&B accomodation utilised by the City Council. There is often no management or support to individuals, with safeguarding risks. Read Healthwatch Report. We would fully support Healthwatch recommendation that there should be a minumum standard of housing, an adequate level of emergency housing to meet the needs of vulnerable people especially women and that there needs to be a major REVIEW to include the failing supported housing system in the City.
On the 27th Dec 2017, Lynn Horsley, who runs the Dorchester B&B /Guest House in Kingsholm, reports the tragic death again of the eigth fatality in 2017 at the Dorchester. The Dorcester is utlised by the City Council Homeless Team who recognise the total lack of support for individuals with medical and physical problems, addictions and mental illness. What is of great concern, is if someone is offered accomodation at The Dorchester and undertandably refuses, that person is said to have made them selves intentionlly homeless and the Council no longer have an obligation to support that person. The present situation is unacceptable.
Rent Receipts…Concerns on reported failure of landlords to issue Rent Receipts, for accomodation utilised by the City Councils Homeless Team. Reports of individuals being evicted for alledged non-payment of rent and then have their duty ceased by the City Councils Homeless Team who are then said to find the individual ‘intentionally homeless’ even though there may not be any proof that rent has been paid or not. Members are concerned that people’s belongings can be just packed up by landlord's and put out on the street for anyone to take. Motion passed unanimously on the 21st June: That the Forum considers any failure to issue receipts for rent or asscociated service charges as unacceptable and a major concern and that this is followed up, to be investigated together with the City Council, as an urgent priority. It is noted that the County Council have a robust process in place with ABS providers in providing receipts, so why cant the City Council?..........
Subsequent Liaison with City Council. Response as follows (to Forum email below dated Nov 2017) from Council Officer: LH, Housing Officer (Strategy), Housing Strategy & Enabling Team.
When Gloucester City Council (GCC) accommodates a household under homelessness into interim/emergency accommodation, GCC pays the rent direct to the landlord on behalf the household. The household is responsible to pay a non-eligible charge for breakfast, heating, lighting & hot water (e.g. in the Dorchester B&B - £16.58 per week). This is a private arrangement between the household and the Landlord of the accommodation. GCC will guarantee two weeks payments of the non-eligible charge which is paid direct to the landlord, if a household is not in receipt of income benefits (e.g. JSA or ESA) and not able to pay whilst they wait for their claim to be assessed.
If a household is asked to leave the accommodation due to non-payment of this charge or due to their behaviour; GCC would make enquiries as to why they are being asked to leave and make a decision on whether they still have a duty to accommodate them or not, under homelessness. This would be called discharge of interim accommodation duty but not a discharge of the main homeless duty.
GCC would continue the homeless investigation/case and will carry out enquiries on their last settled address, this would be the property they resided at and became homeless from before being placed into interim/emergency accommodation. If they are accepted as homeless GCC would then offer temporary accommodation. However, if a household is evicted from temporary accommodation when accepted as homeless the authority’s main homeless duty will end. This process is carried out in accordance with the Housing Act 1996 Part VII (as amended by Homelessness 2002).
Gloucester City Council has been going through an organisational redesign and staff restructure and we are now reviewing all our housing agreements, services and homelessness accommodation and will be meeting with all our landlords to discuss our processes and what is expected of them. We will also be writing to all the B&B landlords explaining our guarantee scheme and we will be advising them as part of the scheme rent receipts should be provided to all residents when they pay their contribution. This letter is currently in draft form, once it has been signed off and sent to all landlords I will send you a copy for your reference. (Note: The Letter has not yet been forwarded as of 6th Jan 2018)
Initial Request from Forum to City Council over concerns with failure of Landlord’s to issue Rent Receipts.
We would be grateful for your help on the above.I have been asked by the Faith & VCS Homeless & Vulnerable Forum to follow up concerns about the failure of certain landlords, used by the City Councils Homelessness Team, to issue receipts for rent or other associated charges. A motion was passed unanimously on the 21st June: 'That the Forum considers any failure to issue receipts for rent or associated service charges as unacceptable and a major concern and that this is followed up, together with the City Council, as an urgent priority'. Please find a Case Study attached, for your attention, which also seems to raise issues about stances taken by the City Council when concerns re rent receipts were raised but seek your views on this. We have been informed, by the County Council, that they have a robust process in place re ensuring rent receipts etc., are monitored, maintained and issued, please see email below, item 4, and extract as follows from the Minutes of the Forum's meeting in June.
We would be grateful for:
1. Your comments on the above.
2. Does the City Council have a process in place?
3. If not, can the City Council replicate the County Council's Process?
You will have noted from the Forum Minutes over the last few meetings, Lorraine, that I have been requested to work with and look for support from the City Council and follow up with Environmental Health re taking up concerns about Landlords, poor standard of accommodation and subsequent health and wellbeing issues. Chris and I have emphasised, that members should liaise with yourself first on homelessness related matters, so I am reluctant to go to EH but your advice would be appreciated.
Healthwatch Gloucestershire recommended that a minimum standard of housing for vulnerable people be agreed, with an adequate level of emergency housing available. A number of concerns were raised about particular accommodation in the city; and the standards, safeguarding risks and lack of dignity vulnerable people were experiencing. It was said it is essential that accommodation is of an acceptable standard, and that there is an adequate level of emergency housing to meet the needs of vulnerable people, especially women. We would like to explore with you how this could be taken forward...your initial thoughts would be appreciated.
Inspections of B&B's: If you have any specific concerns about suitability of B&B's we have been advised by the City Council that inspections are scheduled annually. Members are advised to report any specific concerns, with as much detail as possible to Gloucester City Council general switchboard on firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 01452 396396 – again with as much specific and up-to-date detail as possible.
'The halfway house in Denmark Road is the last resort for the homeless and is needed more than ever since the city’s night shelter closed earlier this year.'
Emmaus. Emmaus is a homelessness charity with a difference, providing more than just a bed for the night for people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion.
Housing Justice. The national voice of Christian Action on housing and homelessness. Housing Justice supports churches nationwide in delivering services to homeless people - stay in touch to keep up-to-date about latest projects and how you can help! Housing Justice E News sign up.
P3. P3 are contracted to provide supported accommodation in Gloucestershire for the County Council within the Supporting Peoples budget. Initially they provided 31 beds, as at Oct 2013, in Gloucester & Cheltenham to allow for the increased numbers they found sleeping rough. This compared favourably with the closed Emergency Night Shelter which had 21 beds when another 14 were known to be sleeping rough. It was interesting to note that the County originally only allowed for 12 beds, increased to 14. This was questioned as being inadequate at the time by the Gloucester City Centre Churches & Faith group and the resulting petition objecting to closure of the night shelter etc., had over 1,000 signatries. P3 now have 8 beds for Gloucester and 6 for Cheltenham as per their contract; a total of 14.
Chapter 1. Chapter 1 is a charity which, based on Christian principles, specialises in providing accommodation and support for vulnerable people. They welcome everyone, regardless of their age, faith, culture or social background. General enquiries ring 020 7593 0470. The Gloucestershire PSL is a Private Sector Leasing Project working with six district councils and other organisations across the county of Gloucestershire to lease a range of properties from private landlords to provide housing for local people from all sectors of the community. Address: 31, Windsor Drive, Gloucester GL4 0QJ or Tel: 01452 412500 or Mobile: 07703 680487 or Email: email@example.com
Home Group is one of England’s largest registered providers of affordable rented housing. Stonham is part of the Home Group and have grown to become the largest provider of care and support services in England. Stonham works with vulnerable people in many local authority areas. They provide housing, care, support and employment, training and education opportunities to people who:
Have a history of offending
Have a mental health issues or a learning disability
Are under 25 and who are vulnerable or at risk
Are fleeing domestic abuse
Are vulnerable for some other reason
The governments Atlas Service, jointly commissioned by the local authority and Probation Trust in Gloucestershire is a payment-by-results individual budget service for prison leavers. The Atlas project can support and resettle offenders into the local community and help access private rented sector accommodation and a life away from crime. The ISIS Centre in Gloucestershire provides an important resource to meet some of the complex and particular re-housing problems faced by women in the resettlement process.
'Claremont House, Gloucestershire Services to Single Homeless, 42 London Road, Gloucester, GL1 3NZ What is Claremont House? Based in Gloucester, Claremont House provides 6 months supported living for up to 20 people with complex needs and chaotic lifestyles. This can include those with addiction or drug and alcohol dependencies.'
'What is Newton House? Newton House offers a safe, enabling environment for homeless people in Gloucestershire with complex or chaotic support or care needs. We offer two services – a domiciliary service for long-term care needs, and a short-term accommodation support service for homeless people seeking to move on to independent living'.