New strategy to tackle homelessness in Central Beds includes more affordable homes

Central Bedfordshire Council aims to eliminate rough sleeping by 2027. Picture: Courtesy of Pixabay.

Central Bedfordshire Council aims to eliminate rough sleeping by 2027. Picture: Courtesy of Pixabay. - Credit: Archant

Plans to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in Central Bedfordshire over the next five years have been approved by Central Bedfordshire Council.

The Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy for 2020-2025 follows a review of homelessness issues and emerging demands, which involved consultations with partners, those affected by homelessness and the public.

Feedback helped shape the key priorities, which include delivering more affordable homes - investment has already been set aside to provide an additional 153 affordable council-owned homes per year until 2024.

Priorities also include raising awareness of support and services available and how to access them, and maximising opportunities for more partnership working, with clearer pathways to tackling homelessness sooner.

The new strategy includes improving access to health services for those affected by homelessness and rough sleeping. For instance, frontline staff will receive mental health awareness training to identify needs, and a new dedicated mental health and substance abuse specialists will be established for rough sleepers.

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The council has pledged to maximise funding opportunities and make the best use of resources through better partnership working, making joint bids for extra funding and reducing reoccurring homelessness.

The target is to eliminate rough sleeping in Central Beds by 2027.

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Councillor Carole Hegley, executive member for housing operations, said: "Homelessness can happen to anyone and there are many reasons why people become homeless, sometimes through no fault of their own.

"Homelessness isn't just about those who sleep rough on the streets, but includes people who sofa surf, squat or stay at shelters or with friends and family.

"There are also those who choose to sleep rough or reject accommodation.

"The strategy aims to tackle all these issues and I'm proud to say we deliver far more affordable homes than many other local authorities. However, we're certainly not complacent and know there remains a lot more to do to support access to accommodation at all levels of income, as well as homes for people who are disabled, in vulnerable circumstances, or to enable residents to own their own home."

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