Five people sleeping rough in Sunderland as council forms new plan to tackle homelessness in city

Coun Stewart Porthouse
Coun Stewart Porthouse

Five people were sleeping rough in Sunderland last autumn - with more than 1,250 seeking housing advice in the city.

The figures come as Sunderland City Council is giving residents and charities the chance to have a say on how homelessness is tackled on Wearside.

Between April and November last year, the council said 1,258 people enquired about housing advice with 224 households relieved of homelessness and 16 accepted as homeless.

Next week, the council's Cabinet will discuss a draft of Sunderland's Rough Sleeping and Homelessness Prevention Strategy for 2019-2021.

Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration, Coun Stuart Porthouse, said: "The draft strategy is all about setting out a clear direction for how we prevent and tackle homelessness, with a major focus on prevention. It's a strategy for everyone in the city, not just the council.

"There is a clear message within the strategy that homelessness is everybody's business. To this end we are looking to involve people and groups across the city in developing a Charter for Homelessness which will set out standards for how Sunderland treats homeless people."

On average, 2,000 households in Sunderland approach the council every year for housing advice and assistance on homelessness.

But the council says that since the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act back in April, early indications are that the number of people seeking advice or assistance has increased.

The draft strategy outlines a plan to help people remain in their homes in order to prevent homelessness and to support vulnerable groups.

Between April and November 2018 there were 1,258 people enquiring about housing advice from the City Council with 224 households relieved of homelessness and 16 accepted as homeless.

Coun Porthouse added: "This is a strategy for Sunderland which sets out a framework to prevent and eliminate homelessness from our city but it must also be seen in the context of society as a whole.

"Homelessness touches everything we do and impacts on health, the economy, education, crime, families, neighbourhoods and policing. It affects us all.

"Homelessness is everyone’s responsibility and this strategy shows that if everyone plays their part we can make real progress in not just tackling homelessness but improving life for our people, our communities and our society."

A provisional consultation timetable for February 11 to March 24 will be outlined to Cabinet at next Thursday's meeting at the Civic Centre.