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Councils teams deal with upsurge in homelessness

Released: Friday, 03 April 2020

An increase in the numbers of rough sleepers and the homeless has been reported during the coronavirus crisis.

Adur & Worthing Councils' housing teams are working hard to find all of these people accommodation as quickly as possible, finding rooms in places such as now empty hotels.

The increase in rough sleepers is thought to have been caused through people living in insecure housing, either lodging or sofa surfing, which has now broken down because of the outbreak.

The Council's Outreach Team are currently still on the streets each day in the early morning and evenings following up reports of rough sleepers. Liaison is then made with the Housing Needs Team to understand the person's requirements. The reports are received from a wide variety of sources such as through the Streetlink website, contact from the homeless person directly or their friends & family, members of the public or other agencies and services.

The Council also works very closely and on a daily basis with homeless charity Turning Tides and the team at St Clare's Community Hub, Worthing to identify people who are rough sleeping in the area.

This multi-agency rough sleepers team is now meeting every two to three days and this is where intelligence is shared about people who are currently or are at risk of rough sleeping and where new reports of people rough sleeping are discussed, with plans agreed about how to contact and support them. A county-wide group has also been set up that meets three times a week, it includes all West Sussex district and boroughs councils, the county council, police, probation service and substance misuse teams to develop approaches and share resources to tackle this issue

While new rough sleepers are asked to complete a report on their circumstances to help the Outreach teams this can be done by the person or someone else on their behalf using Streetlink which helps us to target and co-ordinate our resources, where this is not possible this can be done by phone, email or by people presenting as homeless to St Clare's for them to be contacted by the team. No-one is refused simply because they are unable to fill in the form.

The increase in homelessness and rough sleepers has also been reported by other local authorities across the country.

A spokesman for Adur & Worthing Councils said:

“Despite this recent increase caused by the outbreak our teams are still working hard to find accommodation to ensure people are taken off the streets where they are even more vulnerable than normal because of coronavirus.”

“Our outreach teams are still going out to talk to those in need and we are working to find rooms and shelter for everyone including in hotels, now shutdown because of the crisis, and other premises.”

(PR20-028)

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