Agenda item

Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy

To receive an update from the Director of Communities, Housing and Environment on the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2023 – 2028.


In June 2023 the Scrutiny Board received an update on homelessness prevention activity aspart of regular performance monitoring.


During this update members asked for more information about the development of a new five-yearHomelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy, which followed the completion of a Homelessness Review in January 2023. It was confirmed that the new strategy would be presented to the Scrutiny Board for information to inform future consideration by members of KPIs included within regular performance monitoring data.


The Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2023 - 2028 was approved bythe Executive Board in July 2023.


The following officers were in attendance for this item:


·  James Rogers (Director, Communities, Housing and Environment)

·  Gerard Tinsdale (Chief Officer Housing)

·  Kerrie Murray (Head of Homelessness)


The Chair noted that Cllr J Lennox (Executive Member for Housing) had asked that her apologies be recorded in relation to this item.


Kerrie Murray introduced the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy, highlighting that this is a legal requirement for the Council. The Council must publish a strategy informed by a homeless review in the district at least every five years.


The Strategy has been designed in consultation with the Homelessness Prevention Forum to capture the views of the wider sector and those with lived experiences.


Kerrie set out the four overarching ambitions of the strategy: universal prevention, targeted prevention, intervention and recovery through strong city partnership working, and a shared and integrated approach to building on our offer of Housing Options.


An update was provided in relation to a new single partnership assessment form to prevent people who are experiencing trauma from having to repeat their experiences to different organisations.


The Board was informed that the strategy includes a commitment to expand the Landlord Letting scheme and to increase engagement with landlords in Leeds.


Members noted the strong focus on prevention within the strategy and the ambition to minimise the use of temporary accommodation.


Members of the Scrutiny Board welcomed the strategy and the performance of the team, noting there has been national recognition for the Leeds approach.

The Scrutiny Board expressed concern about overall pressures on housing supply in Leeds, including within the private rented sector.


Specific concern was raised about a limited supply of permanent facilities for members of gypsy and traveller communities, and the impact of temporary sites on local communities. Board members sought clarification about the number of potential permanent sites identified for development as part of the site allocations process, along with the cost of clearing temporary sites.


Gerard Tinsdale noted that the Council had been unsuccessful in a recent bid to secure funding to develop an additional permanent site for members of the gypsy and traveller community. He acknowledged the need in the city but also highlighted the financial challenge of delivering further provision.  He noted the different needs of gypsy and traveller groups with some people requiring permanent facilities, and others in need of temporary facilities as they pass through the city.


Further information was requested about those most at risk of homelessness and groups where there is a likelihood of under-reporting. Kerrie confirmed that there appears to be underreporting within the LGBTQ+ community, particularly amongst young people.  Action had been taken to raise awareness of housing options with young people within the LGBTQ+ community and additional staff training has taken place.


Further information was requested in relation to the potential over representation of veterans within the number of people presenting as homeless. The Head of Homelessness noted that she will confirm this information outside of the meeting.


Members requested more information about accessing help for rough sleepers in their communities and noted particular concern from residents in multi-storey blocks where rough sleepers are identified.


It was confirmed that the Council’s outreach offer has been extended to support rough sleepers found during evenings and weekends. The Council works with partners to ensure those individuals can receive wrap around care, potentially including health-based services to address challenges with drugs and alcohol, as well as accommodation.


Members noted the rise in demand for temporary accommodation and queried whether plans to demolish a number of high-rise buildings in the city would further reduce the supply of accommodation for single households.


The Chief Officer for Housing acknowledged that removing 360 units will increase the pressure on housing services. He reassured members that the allocation policy is currently being reviewed to ensure the focus of allocation is on the needs of the most vulnerable citizens.


He noted that the Council has an obligation to ensure people are living in decent standards and does not have the funding to deliver the extensive changes required to improve the standard of these blocks. He informed the Board that the ultimate ambition is to replace these blocks with higher quality housing but that will take several years.


The Director also highlighted the broader context of investment being delivered as part of the housing growth strategy, which includes social and affordable housing and one-bedroom properties.


Further information was requested in relation to accommodation for those with struggling with addiction. The Head of Homelessness updated the Board on accommodation purchased with funding through the Rough Sleepers Accommodation Programme (RSAP) for individuals who may require immediate wrap around support.


Members welcomed the inclusion of costs within the report and received clarity about performance in relation to other core cities.




Members noted and commented upon the contents of the report.



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