Homelessness Stategy _Appendix 1_ - Medway Council Archive

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Homelessness Stategy _Appendix 1_ - Medway Council Archive Powered By Docstoc
					   Medway
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              Medway’s
              Homelessness
              Strategy

              2003 - 2008
               (2nd Draft)




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FOREWORD


The Homelessness Act 2002 places a new requirement on local authorities to
develop preventative measures and early intervention approaches which
tackle the root causes of homelessness. Solutions can only be delivered
through a proactive interagency approach, which recognises that many
homeless people have support needs and require much more than a roof over
their head if the housing solutions we deliver are to be sustainable over time.

At Medway we are proud of the close working relationships we have already
developed across the public, voluntary and private sector to meet the needs
of homeless people. We recognise the valuable role of Housing Associations
in delivering specialist schemes and providing affordable social housing, the
dedicated work of the Church and other voluntary organisations in delivering
services to some of the most vulnerable people in Medway, the vital
contribution of charitable organisations in the area and last but not least the
support we must receive from private sector partners if we are going to fully
utilise housing resources and deliver a successful strategy. As a unitary
authority we are ideally placed to bring a wide range of public sector agencies
together to meet client needs and communicate effectively.

The Homelessness Act 2002 requires all local authorities to carry out and
publish a homeless strategy for their district and it is within this context that
we are setting out, in this document, our proposals to:

 Prevent homelessness
 Ensure that accommodation is and will be available for homeless people
  or those at risk of homelessness
 Provide support to homeless people

Over 30 agencies and more than 50 service users have informed the writing
of this document and there has been a huge willingness to engage in the
delivery of solutions. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those
who have contributed and will continue to work with us to alleviate and
address the causes of homelessness in Medway.




Cabinet Member                                   Director
Contents



Executive Summary

1     Purpose and vision
            1.1     Legal framework
            1.2     Medway’s vision & values
            1.3     Links with other strategies


2     Overall objectives of the strategy

3     The Methodology


4.    Working in partnership:
            4.1     The Homelessness Forum
            4.2     Working in partnership with the private sector
            4.3     Working in partnership with the voluntary sector

5     Consultation
             5.1     Users and stakeholders
             5.2     Ongoing consultation plan for implementation, monitoring and
                     review of the strategy.

6.   The Homelessness Review
           6.1    The Medway Area
           6.2    Homelessness related performance
           6.3    Homelessness in Medway
           6.3    Current Provision
           6.4    Resources


7.    Assessment of Needs and Gaps in Provision


8     Preamble to the Improvement Plan
            8.1     Key issues to be addressed
            8.2     Review Mechanisms
            8.3     Resources

9.    The Improvement Plan.
Executive summary

With 788 homelessness acceptances in 2002/2003, levels of homelessness
in Medway are high and increasing rapidly. In a situation where Medway
owns just 3.4% of housing in the area the Council has had to rely on Bed and
Breakfast accommodation to deal with the growing numbers of homeless
people in the district.

The Council is committed to eliminating the use of B&B for families by 2004
and in order to achieve this ambitious target, must continue to work in
partnership with other social housing providers in the area, maximising
nominations to Housing Associations, who own 11.5% of housing in the
district and working productively with the private sector. The Council is
currently developing a wide range of initiatives geared towards engaging
private sector landlords. Medway Council also recognises that this strategy
will involve the protection of rights of private sector tenants and the
maintenance of acceptable accommodation standards.

Medway is part of the Thames Gateway regeneration development and will
seek to maximise affordable housing and satisfy the housing needs of local
people. It is anticipated that between 15,000 and 41,000 new properties will
be developed in the area. The Regional Housing Board is currently
considering the investment priorities for the region, which will include an
element of accommodation for the homeless and supported housing.

This strategy incorporates the views of a wide range of partner agencies
spanning all sectors. Discussions have taken the form of face-to- face
interviews, focus group discussions and debate within the Homeless Forum
itself.

A comprehensive survey has been carried out to canvas the opinion of
service users including, both those who have been successful in gaining
accommodation, and those who have not. It also includes the views of hostel
users in the area, collected through a focus group and user surgery.

Much good work is already in progress:

      Medway Council is now piloting floating support across all sectors
       including RSLs, council properties, temporary accommodation and in
       the private sector.

      A range of private sector initiatives have been introduced. Including
       Finders fees, Private Sector Leasing, a deposit guarantee scheme
       and a landlord insurance scheme.

      An option pack for applicants, including those who are not in priority
       need is in production

      An on-line service directory is being developed to assist with sign
       posting and linking people to support.

      An independent housing advice service is being piloted with Shelter
       and the CAB.
             Important multi-agency protocols have been identified including a
              standard multi-agency assessment and referral form to link vulnerable
              people to specialist support services.

             The homeless service has been reviewed and an improvement plan is
              now in place.

             Choice based lettings is being piloted

             Medway has a well-established Homelessness Forum, which meets
              regularly and has played an active part in steering work associated
              with homelessness.

    The homeless review process has enabled the council to identify gaps in
    provision and set out and prioritise key aims and objectives. The
    Improvement Plan builds on work in progress and addresses the following
    key areas:

             Improving existing services
             Improving prevention
             Supporting vulnerable people in tenancy
             Increasing temporary accommodation and alternatives to B&B
             Increasing the supply of affordable housing
             Multi-agency working
             Review mechanisms

    With so few Council owned housing resources and such high demand for
    accommodation Medway Council recognises that the willingness of partners
    from all sectors to engage in developing solutions to homelessness is a great
    asset and will be crucial to a successful strategy.




1   1.        Purpose and Vision

    1.1       The Legal Framework

    The government agenda has raised the political priority of homelessness
    through the Homelessness Act 2002, the Supporting People Programme, and
    other initiatives and targets:

    Sections 1 to 4 of the Homelessness Act 2002 set out the new duties to
    review homelessness and develop a strategy. The Act is a consolidation of
    previous legislation and extends the groups of clients for whom Councils have
    a statutory rehousing responsibility. It also requires the Council to produce a
    homelessness strategy setting out how it will address the needs of homeless
    people in terms of prevention, accommodation and support. The review and
    strategy must consider the needs of both statutory and non-statutory
    homeless people. As well as this, Councils must now provide housing and
    other related advice based on an assessment of the person’s needs.

    The Homelessness Act also places a requirement on Housing Departments to
    review their allocations policy.
The Supporting people programme transferred funds for housing-related
support to Councils in April 2003, encouraging authorities to address the
needs of vulnerable people more holistically.

The Council has a duty to provide temporary accommodation for homeless
households while determination on their cases is made or while a permanent
housing solution is found.

All authorities are expected to meet the Government’s targets to achieve:

         an end to the use of B&B hostels for homeless families with children,
          except in emergencies, and even then for no longer than six weeks:
          and
         levels of rough sleeping that are two-thirds below the levels recorded
          in 1998, or lower.

All local authorities are invited to consider setting additional outcomes.


1.2       Medway’s visions & values

The Council has a clear strategic vision for Medway and has set out to create
an urban renaissance. The Council’s intention is that urban renaissance will
not be achieved at the expense of the existing community e.g. by ensuring
that local people benefit from educational and employment opportunities and
improvements in the local economy.

The council’s six core values are;

         Promoting physical, social and economic regeneration
         Improving the environment
         Realising everyone’s potential
         Equal opportunities and access
         Fostering citizenship
         Giving value for money

The More to Medway Partnership (our local strategic partnership) has
developed a community plan whose key objectives are to secure

     a safe and secure Medway
     a prosperous Medway
     a healthy Medway
     transport in Medway
     Medway a place built for the future
     learning for life in Medway
     a community involved and engaged

Training and employment can help to sustain people in accommodation
particularly young people as the ‘Safe in the City’ programme has clearly
demonstrated. Our strategy therefore takes account of the need to enhance
educational opportunities for homeless people.
1.3       Links with other strategies

Medway’s Homelessness Strategy is linked to a number of existing strategies
prepared by the Council and its partner organisations including:

         Corporate plan;
         Housing strategy;
         Supporting people and communities;
         The Health Improvement Programme; and
         Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Housing Strategy

The grid below sets out the strategic links between existing strategies
and the homelessness strategy.


 Document               Key Aims                  Consistency with the
                                                 Homelessness Strategy

 Medway’s        To ensure that a broad      The strategy sets out the need for
 Housing         range of new homes are      specialist supported
 Strategy        built to meet local need    accommodation and seeks to
 2002 –          and support the             maximise the supply of affordable
 2007            competitiveness of the      housing in partnership with the
                 economy. (this is focused   private and voluntary sectors and
                 most significantly on       how, specifically, homeless people
                 development in the          will benefit from an increase in
                 Thames Gateway region.)     affordable housing in the Thames
                                             Gateway region.
                 By 2004 ensure that all     The strategy supports the Choice
                 people in Medway have       based lettings approach adopted
                 a range of choice in        by the Council as evidence shows
                 housing provision.          that where homeless households
                                             are given an element of choice in
                                             their rehousing their tenancies are
                                             more sustainable over time.

 BME             To make fair and            A separate improvement plan will
 Strategy        effective use of social     be developed following the
 for             housing, promote equal      production of the BME housing
 Housing         opportunities, recognise    strategy for housing. The
                 diversity and provide       homelessness strategy draws on
                 culturally sensitive        the recommendations of the BME
                 services.                   housing strategy and the results of
                                             a BME housing survey.
The       Assess and increase the         The improvement plan includes a
Community availability of affordable      focus on increasing the volume of
Plan      housing stock in the            affordable housing in the private
          area for a range of             sector and also increasing the
          population groups               supply of affordable housing in
                                          partnership with RSLs in the
                                          longer term including an increase
                                          in the number of specialist support
                                          schemes for vulnerable people.
               Reduce the level of
               homelessness in the        This is the over-riding objective of
               area.                      the Homelessness strategy.


Regional       Priority 3 - To reduce     All four of these priorities are
Housing        homelessness and           reflected in the strategy and
Priorities –   rough sleeping             improvement plan.
Regional       Priority 4 – to meet the
Housing        needs of those who
Statement      require supported
2002/2005      housing
               Priority 5 – To meet the
               needs of black and
               minority ethnic people
               and asylum seekers
               Priority 9 – to support
               crime reduction through
               housing provision.



Supporting     To provide a               Our strategy focuses on the needs
People         comprehensive              of the individual and deals with
Strategy       framework to support       homelessness from a holistic
               and enable people to       perspective. Support and
               sustain their tenancy,     prevention are emphasised as
               accessing quality          much as accommodation needs.
               services and funding
               appropriate to need.
2        2.     Overall Objectives of the Strategy
    1.   The objective of this Strategy is to fulfil the requirements of the Homelessness
         Act 2002 in the context of the service needs in Medway. This document sets
         out the Council’s proposals to:

                   Prevent homelessness;

                   Ensure that accommodation is and will be available for homeless
                    people or those at risk of homelessness; and

                   Provide support to homeless people.

         The Review, Strategy and Improvement Plan set out the current level of need
         and provision, the identified gaps and the actions that will be required to fill
         those and to meet further service needs.

         The Council has also set out the ways in it will address the Government
         targets to achieve:

                     An end to the use of B&B hostels for homeless families with
                      children, except in emergencies, and even then for no longer
                      than six weeks

         Much good work is undertaken in Medway in preventing homelessness and
         delivering support to those people that are homeless. This strategy is aimed
         at building on this success and enabling agencies to better coordinate their
         activities to ensure maximum provision and support within the district. It is
         recognised that more can be done in preventing homelessness and delivering
         appropriate and coordinated support and care services to those most
         vulnerable within our community.

         This review will inform the Homelessness Strategy for the Medway Towns.
         The Strategy will provide an holistic approach to addressing and combating
         the complex issues that contribute to homelessness within Medway. The
         Council and its partner organisations are committed to delivering the
         requirements of the Homelessness Act, improving prevention of
         homelessness and delivering appropriate and effective housing, support and
         care services to homelessness people within Medway.

         Medway Council recognises that there are many single vulnerable people for
         whom Bed and Breakfast accommodation (B&B) is unsuitable and will aim to
         reduce the use of bed and breakfast for these groups of people too. The
         authority has a Public Service Agreement (‘PSA’) target to have no household
         in B&B by 2005.

         In accordance with the Housing Strategy our homelessness strategy will aim
         to maximise affordable housing in the area to meet the needs of local people
         and to leverage specialist accommodation in partnership with RSLs in new
         areas of development. In addition Medway will assess the special support
         needs of residents and develop appropriate support.

         In line with the Supporting People Strategy Medway will aim to reduce
         repeat homelessness by helping people to sustain their tenancies. As
    described in the Housing Strategy this will entail assessment and the
    development of appropriate support to meet need.

    The Community Plan reflects the overall aim of our Strategy with its focus on
    the need to reduce levels of homelessness in the area. This will be achieved
    through prevention, support and meeting accommodation needs

    In accordance with the Regional Housing Statement, Medway will improve
    the accessibility of homelessness and housing advice services and ensure
    that special attention is paid to catering for people who have difficulties in
    accessing services, for example, those from ethnic minority groups and those
    with special needs




3   3.      The Methodology
    In undertaking the review various methods of data collection and analysis
    have been utilised. A rigorous and inclusive methodology was adopted for
    this strategy and is illustrated below:

    Approach           Key Tasks

    STAGE 1            Review of existing documentation and research.
    Desk-top review.   Identify scope of local provision and existing sources of
                       information and data.
                       Identify sources of good practice and guidance.
                       Review and analysis of a cross section of homelessness
                       files.
    STAGE 2            Launch event and introduction to the review at the
                       Homelessness Forum.
    Consultation and
    involvement of     Detailed, semi-structured face-to-face interviews with and
    key providers –    involvement of key stakeholders in the review
    through the        encompassing:
    Homelessness           Young people;
    Forum.
                           Mental health;
                           Learning difficulties;
                           Ex offenders;
                           Older people;
                           Asylum seekers.
                       Examination of what’s provided where and by whom.
                       Identify existing strengths and weakness of provision and
                       delivery.
                       Focus groups and brainstorm sessions to collectively
                       address the following homelessness issues:
                          Young people;
                          Homelessness prevention;
                          Private sector involvement;
                          Supporting people in tenancy.
    STAGE 3            Postal survey – questionnaire sent to 200 homeless
                       people in homeless accommodation in Medway.
    Consultation and
    involvement of a   Open surgeries held at key homeless accommodation
    representative     locations within Medway for semi-structured face-to-face
    cross section of   interviews with users.
    service users
                       Focus groups organised at two locations (Power House
                       and Medway Cyrenians) with service users.
                       Review and evaluation of a small number of in-depth
                       homelessness case studies.
    STAGE 4            Homelessness Forum used as basis of discussion and
                       agreement as to the development of Medway’s
    Development and
                       Homelessness Strategy and Action Plan. Delivered by:
    agreement of
    Strategy and          Presentation and Seminar; and
    Action Plan           Focus group discussions and working groups.
                       Council approval process.

    This strategy is the result of the willingness and commitment of the individual
    representatives of the Homelessness Forum, other related local agencies and
    the homeless people that have dedicated their time, enthusiasm and
    assistance




    4.      Working in partnership
4   Partnership working is a particular strength in the Medway area and
    organisations across sectors show a willingness to engage and support each
    other. There is a written partnership vision, which states that:

    ‘Voluntary and Community activity is regarded as crucial to the development
    of Medway as a thriving, confident community where people are proud to live,
    work and learn.’

    Partnership working is seen as key to tackling the needs of Medway and
    includes promoting equality of opportunity, social inclusion and regeneration
    and a better quality of life for all the people of Medway.

    Internally departments within Medway are also developing improved
    partnership. The Primary Care Trusts and Social Services are now working
    towards a seamless service and joint assessment procedures are already in
    place. This approach must now be extended to housing services to ensure
    that homeless people’s needs are met. Floating support services will provide
    the linkage required to make this a reality.

    Extra Care schemes also allow housing and social services to meet under
    one single care agency and social services and health are working closely
    and well together in Medway. Care teams are being integrated and located
    around the GP practices funded by the PCT (Primary Care Trust).
Health, housing and social services must now see themselves as providers of
care and supporters of independence. Medway must therefore invest in
housing and projects that will achieve this and meet the needs of individuals.



4.1    The Homelessness Forum

The Homelessness Forum was established in 2002 and has been meeting on
a six weekly basis to oversee, guide and inform work associated with
homelessness in Medway. Membership of the forum includes representatives
from 40 different organisations providing support and accommodation to
homeless people in the Medway area. The Forum has been developing and
implementing homelessness improvement plans for some considerable time.

The group is chaired by the Venerable Peter Lock from the Diocese of
Rochester and representatives are invited to meetings from the following
organisations:


             Members of the Medway Homelessness Forum


Medway homelessness department          Age Concern
Avelon (Novas)                          DPAA
Hyde Housing Association                Medway housing society
Moat Housing Society                    Neighbourhood Renewal – Medway
Housing 21                              Council
Linda Mathews Estate Agents             Southern Housing Group
MHS Homes Ltd                           Leaving Care Team
Habingteg Housing Association           Moving Forward
Shelter                                 Job Centre Plus
Stonham Housing Association             Caring Hands
EMMAUS                                  Kent Probation service
Private Sector Liaison – Medway         Orbit Housing Association
Council                                 Medway PCT
Health and Community Services           Bailey Housing Association
Directorate                             Council for Voluntary Services
Medway Cyrenians                        English Churches Housing Group
Power House Trust (formerly Winter      W.K. Health and Social Care Trust
Warmers)                                Business Support
The Abbeyfields Medway Valley           Parish of Rochester
Society                                 Salvation Army
The Vines Centre Trust                  Kent Autistic Trust
Medway District CAB service             Medway Mediation
Avenue lettings – Amicus group          Kent Association for the blind


The Homelessness Forum has been fully involved in this homelessness
strategy and will continue to review outcomes regularly, evaluate options for
improvement and agreed action plans.


4.2     Partnership with the private sector
Over 86% of the housing stock in Medway is in private ownership and it is
therefore essential that Medway works in partnership with the private sector
to resolve homelessness.

Private Rented Sector Initiatives

Medway consults regularly with private sector landlords through its Private
Sector Landlords’ Forum who are actively involved in the implementation of
the councils’ empty homes strategy and supported housing schemes. As a
result of these discussions a number of incentives are now offered to private
landlords in the area to encourage them to participate in the delivery of
homelessness solutions. Medway is working towards a menu of options for
private landlords. These currently include:

 The ‘finders fee’ which is a cash payment available to those people who
  are classed as priority need by Medway Council. This is paid direct to the
  landlord or letting agent to contribute towards; rent in advance, a deposit
  and agency fees.

 A pre-tenancy housing benefit determination which can be requested by
  applicants looking for private sector accommodation. An independent rent
  officer will let the applicant know the maximum rent that would be
  considered

 The option of participating in the PSL (private sector leasing scheme)
  where the property is managed by a Housing Association on behalf of the
  Council. Grants are also available as part of this scheme on the basis that
  Medway will fund 75% of the costs of repair up to £15,000. The landlord
  must then make a 5 year commitment to rent to a homeless family.

 The option of participating in the Council’s own PSL scheme managed
  directly by Medway

 A deposit guarantee scheme – This scheme is administered by mhs
  Property Management (which is part of mhs homes) and means that
  Medway can act as a guarantor for the damage deposit required by a
  landlord. The scheme is available to anyone who is threatened with
  homelessness and has a local connection to the area.

 The Rent in Advance facility is publicised to applicants on benefits who
  can’t afford to pay rent in advance and enables them to apply for a loan
  with the department of Work and Pensions. A fixed amount is deducted
  from benefits each week.

 An insurance scheme for landlords

These initiatives must be evaluated over time to establish cost effectiveness
to the Council and to assess financial consequences from the point of view of
tenants. The Council must ensure that these schemes are not resulting in
financial hardship and gauge user satisfaction. Hostel residents emphasised
the need to audit the quality of private sector accommodation and landlord
services and maintain minimum standards (possibly through an accreditation
system) particularly where landlords are receiving financial support from the
Council.


Affordable Housing

The Thames Gateway provides a perfect opportunity to increase affordable
housing stock in the area, particularly for local people who would like to
remain in the area but are likely to be displaced because they have been
priced out of the property market. Medway must utilise the opportunities
available to maximise affordable housing and leverage specialist
accommodation and schemes to meet a wide range of need by using
planning powers judiciously. Medway will ensure that sufficient sites are
identified for affordable housing and that the planning process, through
section 106 agreements and exemption policies link sites to a supply of
affordable housing

Medway has a Do It Yourself Shared Ownership (DYSO) Scheme to help
make home ownership more accessible. This type of scheme was broadly
welcomed by hostel residents and there is clearly scope for expansion. The
AMICUS group has a purchase and repair scheme and other associations in
the area offer shared ownership and starter homes to assist entry into the
property market.


4.3.     Partnership with the voluntary sector

There are just over 14,000 units of affordable housing in Medway (April 2002
figures). The Council owns and manages 3,318 homes for them, all located
in the Gillingham and Rainham areas. Medway Housing Society (‘mhs
Homes’) owns and manages approximately 7,700 homes in the district
following a transfer of stock from the previous Rochester upon Medway City
Council. There are also over 20 Housing Associations operating in the
Medway area with a combined stock of 3,396 units.

In order to meet its statutory obligation, Medway must maximise its access to
nomination rights and ensure that nominations to Housing Associations are
fully utilised. The Council has concluded the re-negotiation of the
homelessness agreement with mhs homes and they will provide up to 50% of
their void units to provide accommodation for the homeless. They will also
take a proportion of nominees from outside the former Rochester City Council
area to ensure they cover the whole of Medway. A simple standard
nominations agreement has been drafted to be negotiated with Registered
Social Landlords (mhs is not a RSL) This will be monitored by the Medway
allocations officers and will also ensure that all RSLs are treated equitably. It
must, however be recognised that these measures will not add to the overall
supply of housing in the area.

Choice based lettings by RSLs is currently being piloted and participating
RSLs have been satisfied with the results. The scheme must now be
evaluated and if successful extended to all RSLs in the area.

There is much scope for improvement in communication between the Council
and voluntary agencies and these issues will be developed in more detail
    later in the strategy. One of the main problems highlighted by a wide range of
    voluntary sector partners has been slower than average processing of
    Housing Benefit renewal claims this is an issue which is addressed in the
    improvement plan.

    Medway Council has a contract with CAB and Shelter to provide independent
    housing advice. This includes a telephone and drop in service and out reach
    services to the Court desk. It also includes raising awareness in local schools
    to prevent future homelessness.




5   5.     Consultation

    5.1    Users and stakeholders

    We have contacted a wide range of homeless people in the development of
    this strategy. Consultation has taken the form of:

     a questionnaire sent out to over 200 people who have applied to Medway
      Council for assistance. These applicants include those who have been
      accepted as homeless and those who have been unsuccessful;

     a surgery for service users advertised and held in the Council offices and;

     A surgery held at Medway Cyrenians and a well attended focus group
      held at Power House Trust for hostel residents.

     The evidence presented to the Youth and Education Overview and
      Scrutiny Committee between October 2002 and February 2003 focusing
      on housing provision for vulnerable young people in Medway.

     A survey of the needs of black and minority ethnic households conducted
      in 2002.

    Over 50 stakeholders from a variety of different organisations have been
    consulted in the development of this strategy. Their views have been
    incorporated in sections of the Review and Strategy where appropriate.

    5.2    The ongoing consultation plan.

    The success of this strategy will depend upon clear objectives and
    accountabilities and the delivery of a robust plan for its implementation,
    monitoring and review. The best vehicle for this will be the well established
    Medway Homelessness Forum.
        It will be essential to oversee the plan and keep it on track and under review.
        The improvement plan must be a living document and the forum, with its
        broad range of expertise and perspectives, will be in a strong position to keep
        it on track and adapt the plan to meet new trends and changes in the
        environment. The forum will continue to meet on a six weekly basis and will
        review improvement plan progress on each occasion. A slot will also be
        available at the beginning of the meeting for representatives to flag up
        external issues that may challenge the Homelessness strategy and indicate a
        need to revise the approach.

        Service users are not currently included on the forum and although more
        users could be involved at forum level there is still a need to repeat our
        consultation on an annual basis to ensure that the strategy is effective.




6   1
        6.     The Homelessness Review

        The purpose of the review was to establish the current and future levels of
        homelessness in the Medway area, the existing provision for homelessness
        and homelessness prevention within Medway and identify where gaps exist
        and need to be addressed in order to meet the requirements of the
        Homelessness Act 2002.

        The review has been undertaken with the full involvement of and in
        consultation with other public agencies, voluntary organisations and users of
        the service. The review has also incorporated other related service providers
        that have a major influence on Homelessness service delivery within Medway
        such as health and care providers, education and training, the police and the
        benefits service.

        The review was undertaken in the period of March 2003 to June 2003.


        6.1    The Medway Area

        Medway Council (‘the Council’) is a unitary authority in north Kent in south-
        east England. It is situated on the north Kent coast and covers an area of
        just under 27,000 hectares (104 square miles) and has a population of
        249,502 of which over just over 6% are from ethnic minority communities.

        The main Medway towns in the area are Strood, Rochester, Gillingham,
        Chatham and Rainham. The area also includes a substantial rural area
        including the Hoo peninsula with many small villages and communities.
        Medway is part of the Thames Gateway region.

        Medway has a relatively young population with nearly 28% of the population
        under the age of 20 compared with a national figure of 25%. The number of
        pensioners is also lower than the national average. There is a projected
        increase in population of 20,800 by 2011.
The age profile of the population is as follows:
             Age Range     Medway      South East    UK
             0–4           6.5%        5.9%          5.9%
             5 – 14        14.6%       12.8%         13.0%
             15 – 19       6.7%        6.1%          6.2%
             20 – 65       59.6%       58.9%         59.0%
             65 – 89       12.2%       15.6%         15.3%
             90 +          0.48%       0.75%         0.6%
             Total         100%        100%          100%
            Source: Census 2001

Employment in manufacturing has decreased substantially since 1981 and
the service sector now accounts for over 70% of the work in the area. About
half the people who live in the area also work there and unemployment has
fallen to just below 3% compared to a national average of 3.7%.

Medway contains examples of prosperity and deprivation. Overall the area is
within the middle range of councils for the deprivation indices set by
Government, being the 170th most deprived district out of 352 council areas
nationally and the 7th most deprived out of 13 council areas locally.

Medway has examples of successful regeneration projects particularly the
Chatham Maritime dockyard. The Council is working with partners and
making capital investments in other regeneration programmes, for example
the Chatham City Vision and the Universities for Medway. As part of the
Thames Gateway region, Medway has good access to road and rail networks
and good links to Europe and is in an area marked by Central Government for
substantial growth.


6.2    Indicators of Performance

The indicators below set out the performance of Medway in comparison with
other Local authorities of a similar type.

Indicator                            Medway        Average   Average by
                                                              authority
                                                                type

% of homelessness                      66%          85.5%      82.5%
applications decided within 33
working days

% of vacant private sector             4.1%         4.2%       3.8%
dwellings occupied in 2000/01
as a result of LA action

Average relet time for empty         47 days        44.8     51.7 days
properties in days                                  days

% of rent lost through dwellings       1.6%         2.1%       2.3%
becoming vacant

Speed of processing new             56.6 days       52.2      57 days
Housing Benefit claims                              days

Speed of processing renewal           51.5%         66.0%      60.0%
Housing Benefit claims on time

It is clear from the figures above that Medway’s performance is below
average in terms of the speed with which homelessness applications are
assessed and the speed with which renewal applications for Housing Benefit
are processed. In all other respects performance is maintained at around
average levels.

These levels of performance support the views and perceptions of
stakeholders that were collated and assessed as part of this review. Housing
Benefit is reported to be a contributory factor to homelessness in the area,
due to rents not getting paid on time and the termination of tenancies,
although figures from Medway and the survey of homeless people would
suggest that incidents are still fairly low compared to other issues such as
breakdown in family relationships.


6.3    Homelessness in Medway

Data Capture

Data has been collated from a wide range of sources to establish the
broadest most comprehensive picture of homelessness within Medway.
During the exercise it was apparent that data capture mechanisms and
collation methods could be better coordinated and improved, although good
quality and detailed information is available if sought.

Undertaking this exercise has identified the need for common and regular
data capture methods to accurately monitor levels of homelessness,
throughput activity, service levels and performance.

More readily available and regularly produced monitoring data would secure
better monitoring arrangements and coordinated activity between partners. In
the light of the ongoing commitment locally for continued and expanded joint
working, regular monitoring and management information is vital.

Data collected at application stage can also be used is a practical way to
ensure that people are appropriately placed and receive the correct support at
an early stage. Ongoing data will be crucial to establish whether the Council’s
strategies are successful throughout the review process.


The Current Picture

In 2002/3 a total of 788 cases were accepted as homeless and in priority
need. The total number of accepted homeless cases in priority need over the
past three years is illustrated in the table below.

               Year         Total Accepted in Priority
                                      Need
               2000/01                 355
               2001/02                 463
               2002/03                 788
Medway recognises that there is an unacceptable level of homeless people
and families in bed and breakfast accommodation and have monitored the
situation closely and introduced a range of measures and initiatives to
address the problem. Recent trends suggest that the situation improved,
although this trend has reversed in the last three months.

This position poses a significant risk to the 2003/4 budget and is likely to
result in a higher than anticipated overspend.
                                 Use of Bed and Breakfast Accommodation


 90


 80


 70


 60


 50


 40


 30


 20


 10


  0
       Jul-02     Aug-02      Sep-02         Oct-02        Nov-02       Dec-02           Jan-03     Feb-03

                               Families in        No. Families over 6        Singles +
                               B&B                weeks                      Couples


Note: No breakdown is available for July 2002.

There was a 16% decrease in the total number in bed and breakfast
accommodation between July 2002 and February 2003. There has been a
significant downwards trend in the number of families in bed and breakfast
during this period. Between Aug 2002 and February 2003 a 59% reduction in
the number of families in bed and breakfast accommodation had been
achieved. The number of families staying in bed and breakfast in excess of 6
weeks had reduced from 14 to 5 (equivalent to 64% decrease).


                Families in            No. Families                 Singles +               Total
                  B&B                  over 6 weeks                 Couples
 Jul ‘02                                                                                      70
 Aug ‘02            41                                                  36                    77
 Sep ‘02            22                                                  23                    55
 Oct ‘02            25                                                  27                    52
 Nov ‘02            24                       14                         31                    55
 Dec ‘02            16                       9                          37                    53
 Jan ‘03            13                       6                          41                    54
 Feb ‘03            17                       5                          42                    59
 Mar ‘03                                                                                      77
 Apr ‘03                                                                                      79
 Part May                                                                                     91
 ‘03
A number of factors have been identified for the increasing numbers in B&B
accommodation. These are as follows:

      Increased Presentations - the numbers of single vulnerable
       applicants approaching the authority has increased sharply. This may
       be partly attributable to the improved access to Housing Advice
       services, which as part of the specification provides outreach housing
       advice surgeries at the Addiction Centre and Powerhouse Trust.
      Lack of Move-on Accommodation - there is very little movement of
       cases with a 1 bedroom need through temporary accommodation
       which presents a bottleneck in B&B.
      Allocation Policy - the current allocation policy does not prioritise
       sufficient numbers of homeless households in temporary housing for
       permanent housing. If the policy fails to achieve movement in
       temporary housing, then temporary housing silts up creating a
       bottleneck in B&B accommodation.
      Delay/Difficulties with Assessment - the increases in applications
       from single vulnerable clients has caused delays in assessments.
       Typically, this is due to more complex personal needs and prolonged
       information gathering and negotiation to assess and find appropriate
       placements.
      Reduced supply of homeless accommodation – the collapse of the
       ‘Invest to Save Scheme’ at Peak House and significant delays in the
       scheme to purchase street properties by Moat has hindered the
       supply of suitable homeless accommodation.


Rough Sleeping

At the last street count, just over a year ago, there were very few rough
sleepers and there are currently, only 5, known rough sleepers in the area.
The same survey will be repeated this winter that will assist with the review
and assessment of the effectiveness of the winter shelter in Medway. The
ODPM has acknowledged that there is no significant problem in the area and
has stated that there is no further need for a street count.

Homeless Applications

The numbers of homeless applications made between 1999/2000 and 2002/3
are set out in the table below. There has been a steady increase in
applications and acceptances during the last four years. This represents a
significant increase.


       Year      Applications   Acceptances     % Acceptance
                                                    Rate
       1999/00      1236            170             14%
       2000/01      1357            355             26%
       2001/02      1455            463             32%
       2002/03      1523            788             52%
The profile of homeless applications over the past two years provides a better
understanding of the type of applications received and the characteristics of
applicants.

   Age of         Number of Applicants              Number of            %
   Applicant           2001/02                  Applicants 2002/03    Change
   Under 18               41                            129            215%
   19 – 25               439                            476              8%
   26 – 35               456                            496              9%
   36 – 45               361                            236            -35%
   46 – 55               107                            97              -9%
   56 – 65                25                            43              72%
   65+                    24                            46              92%
   Unclass                 -                            12
   Total                1453                           1523            5%

The most significant increase in homeless applications has occurred in young
people aged less than 18 years. There has also been a disturbing increase in
applications from older people aged more than 56 years.

An analysis of the family status of homeless applications informs that there
was an increase in applications from couples and families in 2002/3
compared to 2001/2.           When addressing the supply of suitable
accommodation and reducing the use of B&B accommodation these trends
need to be fully appreciated.


        Family Status of Applicants 2001/2 2002/3 % Change
        Couple Only                   55     68     24%
        Disabled                                       11        -
        Elderly Couple                                 12        -
        Elderly 2 bed need                              2        -
        Elderly single                                 50        -
        Families                               892     993     11%
        Pregnant                               101               -
        Single Person                          405     399      -1%
        Total                                  1453    1535     6%
       NOTE: Some categories not collated in 2001/2.


Types of Homeless Applications

Households with children or expecting children represented 68% of all
homeless applications for the period 2001/2 and 65% in 2002/3. Those with
mental illness and other vulnerable people such as those with physical
disabilities and the young were also significant. Homeless applications from
those with dependents, suffering physical disabilities and subject of domestic
violence have decreased significantly during this period.
               Applicant Type   2000/01          2001/02
               Pregnant           105              82
               Dependents         880              736
               Old age             39              20
               Physical            61
               disability                          50
               Mental Health          65           77
               Vulnerable             55
               other
               (including
               young)                              46
               Domestic               25
               violence                            18
               Emergencies          10             11
               Non priority        148             414
               TOTAL              1388            1454

The Homelessness User Survey conducted as part of this review supports
these findings. 43% of respondents were lone parent families and a further
30% were couples with children. In total 75% of respondents were from
households with or expecting children.

                                 3%


                                                    20%




               29%


                                                           3%      Single
                                                                   Couple without Children
                                                           3%      Pregnant
                                                                   Lone Parent
                                                                   Couple with Children
                                                                   No Answer




                                           42%




65% of respondents were female and the age breakdown was as follows:


                     Age        % of Respondents
                     Under 18          8%
                     18 – 25          30%
                     26 – 55          58%
                     Over 55           5%

It is important to develop a Homelessness Strategy and future service
provision in line with those groups most vulnerable to homelessness. This
will inform the packages of preventative support and care that needs to be
developed and the accommodation provision that will be most suitable.
Reasons for Homelessness

The reasons for homelessness in Medway are illustrated in the table below.
An increasing problem for homelessness in Medway is with parents no longer
able or willing to help, although it is the breakdown of relationships that is the
single main contributor to homelessness.

The termination of assured short-hold is also a significant problem and one in
which advice and support services could best address.

                                    1999/00   2000/01   2001/02   2002/03
Parents no longer able/willing to
accommodate                          10.6%     17.5%     24.6%     22.9%
Relatives or friends no longer
able/willing to accommodate          12.4%     12.4%     12.5%     16.0%
Breakdown of relationship with
partner – violent                    10.6%     9.3%       5.6%      9.2%
Breakdown of relationship with
partner – non violent                8.2%      9.0%       9.3%      5.6%
Mortgage Arrears – repossession
or other loss of home                5.3%      3.4%       1.9%      1.3%
Rent Arrears – LA/other public
sector                               0.0%      0.3%       0.2%
Rent Arrears – HA                    1.8%      2.5%       1.1%
Rent Arrears – Private Sector        2.9%      5.1%       4.3%
Rent Arreas - Combined                                              7.2%
Termination of Assured Short-
hold                                 25.3%     18.6%     22.2%     16.1%
Loss of rented/tied
accommodation                        6.5%      7.3%       5.0%
Other loss                                                         11.1%
In institution/care etc               4.7%      3.1%      2.4%      2.0%
Newly formed/split households        11.8%     11.5%     10.8%
Emergency                                                          8.7%
TOTAL                               100.0%    100.0%    100.0%     100%




The Homelessness Survey established that 22% of respondents had been
homeless before. It is essential that cases of repeat homelessness are
identified and receive appropriate support to prevent them from becoming
homeless again. These cases will in future be identified and tracked at the
point of application.

Continued and greater emphasis on proactive preventative measures is the
most appropriate way of tackling homelessness in Medway. There are some
excellent examples of preventative action within Medway although these need
to be bolstered in terms of resources and stability of funding. These are
discussed in more detail in the following Chapters.


6.4    Current Provision for Homelessness

Many agencies are involved with homelessness or potentially homelessness
people in the Medway towns and much good work is undertaken in preventing
homelessness and delivering support to those people that are homeless. It is
recognised that more can be done in preventing homelessness and delivering
appropriate and coordinated support and care services to those most
vulnerable within the Medway community.

Affordable Housing

Like many authorities in the South East, Medway has problems with
affordable housing. The mean average house price reported in the 2001
census was £95,045 compared to the average for England and Wales of
£90,000.

The Council owns and manages 3,318 homes, all located in the Gillingham
and Rainham areas. Medway Housing Society (‘mhs homes’) owns and
manages approximately 7,700 homes in the district following a transfer of
stock from the previous Rochester upon Medway City Council.

In the Medway towns, the Council owns just 3.4% of the housing and social
landlords, including MHS, own 11.5%. The majority of homes are in private
ownership. The Council’s housing stock is as follows:

               Archetype                  Number        %
               Houses                      1,456       44
               Flats                       1,261       38
               Sheltered properties         373        11
               Bungalows                    228         7
               Total                       3,318       100
           Source: Council 2002

The supply of appropriate and affordable housing to meet the needs of
homelessness within Medway is vital.

In total approximately 330 properties become available each year that is far
less than the 788 people accepted as homeless and in priority need in
2002/03. There is a shortfall of 458 places and a shortage of supply of
affordable permanent accommodation.          There is also of course, our
commitment to households on the waiting list. This shortfall explains, to some
extent the current over-reliance on bed and breakfast accommodation.

The answer is not necessarily more temporary accommodation but better
management of existing accomodation. The situation could be improved with
better ‘move-on’ and improved management of nomination rights to
Registered Social Landlord (‘RSL’) properties.

Scope of Provision

A summary analysis of provision by agency is illustrated in the table below.
The needs and gaps in provision to particular homelessness groups are
discussed in Chapter 7.

 Agency           Objective Group                  Summary of Provision

 Medway          General needs      3,300 properties – approximately 330 properties
 Housing         accommodation.     become void per annum – 25% go to homeless
                                    people (about 82 units per annum).
Medway Social     Young people         15 supported lodging places (similar to fostering but
Services          leaving care         with greater independence)
Leaving Care
Team
Medway Elderly    Older People         40-50 people supported by floating care managers.
Services          facing               Expanding Extra Care (supported housing) projects.
                  accommodation
                  problems
MHS Homes         General needs        7,000 properties 50% of all voids go to homeless
                  accommodation        people nominated by Medway. 350 per annum.
Crowbridge        Young people         Provide floating support and 30(+23 to be built)
                                       properties.
                                       Few referrals from Medway
                                       Under 100 unsupported PSL properties.
Orbit HA          Vulnerable           Supported provision for 16 – 24 year olds.
                  families and
                  pregnant             91 units for temporary housing of the homeless*
                  teenagers (12)
                                       54 1 and 2 bed units of supported accommodation
                                       Support is provided by Stonham
Avalon Foyer      Young people         27 supported places

                  Also hostel          Marlborough house – 12 units
                  accommodation
                  for homeless
                  nominations
Southern          General needs        238 properties
Housing Group     accommodation.
Stonham HA        Vulnerable           38 bed spaces for vulnerable 16-24 year olds
                  young people         referred by Medway
                  Teenage parents      Also some provision (12 places) for teenage parents.
Hyde HA           Young people         Provide support and short term accommodation for
                  with mild learning   young people with learning difficulties.
                  difficulties
Swale             General Needs        37 (with 13 more to come) properties for general
                                       needs. Medway have some nominating rights.
MCCH              People with          Support and care to people with mental illness.
                  Mental Health        Up to 20 places with
                  needs
Springboard       Young people         Provide accommodation (9 places) to young people
                                       particularly students or those that are working.
Moving Forward    Young People         Advice and support not accommodation Moving on is
                                       about increasing confidence, filling in forms, sign-
                                       posting to other people and referring to specialists.
Medway            Direct Access –      Direct Access – 8 beds, 100 clients a year.
Cyrenians         single people        Medium Stay accommodation – 15 beds, 60 clients a
                                       year
                  Also refer to and    Long Stay – 3 beds, 3-4 clients a year.
                  guarantee for
                  Has including
                  MHS and Beaver
HOPE              Ex-offenders         Provide floating support to ex-offenders.

                                       Also provide 80 bed spaces through a key worker
                                       scheme and 8 beds and 6 flats within the Medway
                                       area..
                                       .
Ashdown           Ex-Offenders –       Approximately 10 bed places.
Medway            possibly support
Accommodation     rather than
Trust (AMAT)      accommodation
Power House       Direct access –      Direct access Hostel with 23 bed spaces.
Trust             single people        On average manage 284 different clients a year.
Citizens Advice   Advice service       Provide advice and guidance
Bureau
Shelter           Advice service       Provide advice and guidance
 Victoria Centre   Drug and Alcohol   Provide a drop in centre facility for those with drug
                   Abusers            and alcohol misuse problems.
 Probation         Ex offenders       Statutory responsibility for ex offenders.
 Services
 Private Sector    Provide            Direct Council placements into Private Sector leased
 Landlords         additional         scheme providing vital temporary accommodation for
                   accommodation      people that are homeless.8,000 dwellings.
                   within the
                   Medway area. .
 Moat Housing      General needs      Provide general support and guidance within 13
 Society.                             supported properties and 312 under shared
                                      ownership.
                                      Support 637 general needs applicants per annum
                                      of which Medway Council has nomination rights to
                                      75 places.

*It should be noted in this context that 42 of the 92 properties held by Orbit
and currently designated for temporary accommodation for the homeless are
due to be demolished over the next few years, and will require investment of
£60,000 if they are to have an additional three year life. Alternative sites
should be sought at an early stage to ensure that these dwellings are
replaced.

Medway Council has a contract with CAB and Shelter to provide independent
housing advice. This includes a telephone and drop in service and out reach
services to the Court desk. It also includes raising awareness in local schools
to prevent future homelessness. Prevention depends upon good and
accessible advice for homeless people or people at risk of homelessness
about the range of options available to them particularly help with debt
counselling and benefits advice.

The mediation service covers both family mediation for young people leaving
home, mediation services for landlord and tenant disputes and mediation
services dealing with neighbour disputes. Although the service is still at an
early stage in relation to young people the pilot appears to have been very
successful and Medway will continue to support the organisation financially.

Floating support is now provided by most RSLs, mhs homes have a scheme
called mhs extra and Medway now has its own team of support workers,
working with council tenants and people in temporary accommodation. In
addition there is a worker employed by the Council to support people in
private accommodation, particularly those who face eviction.

The Homelessness Survey identified that in 60% of cases, homeless or those
threatened with homelessness contact the Council in the first instance,
although a significant percentage (41%) also go on contact other agencies
such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (‘CAB’), Shelter, Power House Trust and
registered social landlords (‘RSLs’).

It is important therefore that consistent information, advice and guidance are
available from all agencies within Medway and that good practice protocols
are followed by each organisation to ensure that all homelessness enquiries
and applications are dealt with appropriately and in the most effective
manner.
The Homelessness Survey identified those services received from the
Council and partner organisations and also provided an indication of how
users rated services. The results are as follows:
                                       Services Received by Users
       80
       %

       70
       %

       60
       %

       50
       %

       40
       %

       30
       %

       20
       %

       10
       %

        0
        %   Advice on          Guidance       Advice on housing Information on    Advice on     Advice on
            housing
               option          making
                                homelessn     rights            services          preventing
                                                                                    homelessn   money and
                                                                                                     benefi
               s                ess
                                 applicati                                          ess              ts
                                 on



      Overall the perception of the services received were positive, although
      users didn’t feel that they had always been listened to, services were
      slow and that more information would have been helpful.

                                            Satisfaction of Users


                                        No answer
                                           8%
                                Very Poor                                        Very Good
                                   3%                                               23%
                               Poor
                               10%




                        Satisfactory
                            29%                                                     Good
                                                                                    27%




6.5   Resources
As part of the review Medway Council must consider the resources available
for preventing homelessness and ensuring that support and accommodation
will be available to those in need.

Homeless and Allocations services are based at the main council offices in
Gillingham. They form part of the Housing Department within the Health and
Community Services Directorate. The organisational structure for the service
is as follows:

                                                                 Supported Housing
                                                                     Manager

                                                                                                          Tenancy Support Team
                Supporting People
                Team
                                                              Housing Advice & Allocations
                                                                      Co-ordinator


                                                                                                                   CBL Co-ordinator
                                                               Snr Homelessness Officer &
                                                                 Housing Advice Officer




                                                               Trainee Homelessness      Housing &                               Common
                                              Accommodation                                                   CBL Project
                     Private sector liaison                     & Housing Advice        Homelessness                             Register
                                                  Officer                                                       Officer
                              x1                                     Officers           Advice Officers                           Officers
                                                   x2                                                            x1
                                                                        x2                   x4                                     x4




  Support Team Supervisor




 Housing and Homelessness Advice Support Assistants
                       x 9




The 2003/4 budget for Homelessness and Allocations is £1,049,473 which
excludes a further £168,322 for Choice Based Lettings. A summary
breakdown of the 2003/4 budget is provided below.

                                              Housing &             Choice Based                    Total
                                              Allocations             Lettings
Staffing & Accomm                              575,525                 126,903                    702,428
Central support                                  70,727                 16,988                     87,715
Temporary Accomm                               313,950                         -                  313,950
Services & supplies                              18,250                 80,220                     98,470
Housing Advice                                 100,100                         -                  100,100
Grants                                           99,200                        -                   99,200
Deposit Guarantee                                10,000                        -                   10,000
Scheme
Income                                        (138,280)                  (55,790)              (194,070)
Total                                         1,049,472                  168,321               1,217,793

The budget assumes expenditure for 2003/4 of £313,950 on temporary
accommodation including the use of B&B accommodation. Initial analysis
    conducted by the department has identified a significant likely overspend due
    to increased presentations, lack of available ‘move on’ accommodation,
    existing allocations policy, delays in assessment and the delay in the supply
    of additional accommodation. The total spend on temporary accommodation
    is estimated to be £1,140,246 representing an overspend of £826,296. We
    believe it is prudent to show a ‘worst case scenario’ and we have therefore
    not included the impact of any new initiatives identified in our Improvement
    plan at this stage.


    An action plan has been identified to address the growing problem of over
    use of temporary accommodation.




7   7      Assessment of Needs and Gaps in Provision

    A considerable amount of information has been gathered from stakeholders
    and clients about the level of need in the area and specific gaps in provision.
    The following needs in the area have been identified:

                Multiple needs;

                Young people;

                People with mental health problems and learning disabilities;

                People who misuse substances;

                Elderly people;

                People with physical health needs;

                People at risk of violence;

                People who are ex-offenders;

                Asylum seekers; and

                Direct access accommodation.

    In addition to this review, the Council completed a Housing Needs Survey; the
    results of which will inform the needs profile of the area.

    An extensive supply mapping was undertaken as part of the Supporting
    People implementation programme and this is described in detail in the
    Supporting People Shadow Strategy. Medway has consequently recognised
    many of the needs identified above and has addressed many of these issues
    through the supporting people programme. However there are still gaps in
    provision, which must be addressed in future. The supply mapping showed a
    number of key shortages in the provision of accommodation with support:-
There is a shortage of supported accommodation for people with learning
difficulties and mental health problems. With assistance these clients can
sustain independent living. Such accommodation does not require specific
adaptation and can be located throughout the stock. The development of
appropriate floating support services will also help to address the lack of
provision.

There is a lack of supported accommodation for people who mis-use
substances and the provision of clustered accommodation is required. Such
accommodation would support the Council’s Community Safety Plan and
Health Promotion Strategy and help to reduce re-offending.

It is anticipated that there will be a significant future need for extra care
sheltered accommodation and a need to provide a short stay assessment
centre to release hospital beds.

There is a need for good quality self-contained temporary accommodation for
homeless people. The Council is expanding floating support services to all
homeless households in temporary accommodation both in social housing an
in the private sector.

There is a shelter for single homeless people in Rochester, the premises
have a limited life and we need to evaluate the service and if appropriate find
alternative provision.

Stakeholders believe there is a hidden demand for victims of domestic
violence and a need for outreach and floating support.

Crucially there is a shortage of move on accommodation, which means that
specialist facilities are full and this means that the Council is unable to place
homeless people with support needs until the existing occupants are moved
on.

A summary of the needs and gaps is provided below. Detailed commentary
on specific needs follow.

 Need                  Agencies                            Gaps
                      Addressing
 General           Caring Hands        Much work is being done within Medway to
 vulnerable        day Centre,         assist homeless people with multiple needs.
 homeless –        Cyrenians, Power    Pilot initiatives need to mature and be
 multiple          House Trust         evaluated and improved coordination and
 needs                                 joint delivery will further assist within this
                                       area.
                                       Protocols need to be developed that better
                                       define best practice and the roles and
                                       responsibilities of the different agencies.
 Young People      Social Services     Although some work is being done with
                   leaving care        young people prior to their leaving care. A
                   team, Medway        safety net needs to be provided to this
                   Mediation           particular group.
                   Prospect House      More suitable accommodation that better
                   (MHS), Power        balances supported and independent living
                   House Trust,        for young people and short term shelter (for
                   Avelon foyer,       ‘cool down’) also needs to be improved..
                   Stonham and the     Mediation services within Medway have
                  Base Project        proved successful but funding for these
                                      services need to be mainstream so that
                                      longer term planning and support can be
                                      undertaken.
                                      ‘Moving on’ services and more suitable
                                      accommodation required for this catchment
                                      group.
Drug and          AMAT, DAAT,         Proper treatment facilities.
Alcohol           Medway              There is no housing provision for these
abusers           Cyrenians           clients This represents a serious gap.
                                      Clustered accommodation could be a
                                      possible remedy.
Teenage           Stonham HA
Parents           have twelve
                  places with
                  support for
                  teenage parents.
Ex Offenders      AMAT, Medway        According to the police there is a relatively
                  Cyrenians, HOPE     high level of provision in terms of safe
                  21 beds funded      houses for schedule 1 offenders in the area.
                  through PAGS        Probation services, however, feel that more
                  (supporting         should be provided.
                  people) and 12+6
                  funded by C.        Specialist resettlement teams are available
                  Govt.               on leaving prison and sentence planning
                                      includes planning future accommodation.

                                      Gaps have been identified in emergency
                                      short-term provision and the provision for
                                      women, high risk and mentally disordered
                                      offenders.
Older People      Age Concern,        There is a significant current and future
                  Medway              need for extra care sheltered housing.
                  MCCH                Better coordination, communication and
                  Social services     processes between different agencies and
                                      council departments would reduce
                                      homeless applications among elderly
                                      residents.
Mental Health &   MCCH                There is a shortfall in existing provision
Learning          Cyrenians           particularly for those that are on the
Disabilities      Learning            borderline and require more flexible help
                  Disability Health   and support during times of stress,
                  Team                loneliness and isolation.
                                      There is a potential need for more
                                      independent accommodation and self -
                                      contained floating support type
                                      accommodation. There is currently no
                                      provision for Downs Syndrome sufferers in
                                      their 30s and 40s.
                                      Facilitation of access to other services that
                                      increase social interaction would assist
                                      these individuals together with more
                                      outreach support within the community.
Physical Health   Disabled Persons    Only 79 places for this client group, most of
                  Accommodation       them outside Medway.
                  Agency              Medway has commissioned an audit of
                                      provision on behalf of DPAA.
                                      The need for a database of adapted
                                      properties has been identified.
                                      Protocols between agencies would utilise
                                     provision and ensure consistency and
                                     suitable support dependent on need.
 Substance        Victoria Drop-in   Protocols need to be developed to identify
 misuse           Centre             best practice in supporting and addressing
                  Health services    combined crack cocaine and heroine abuse
                                     within the area and the most appropriate
                                     agencies to do so.
                                     Greater provision of more stable and
                                     supportive accommodation for this group
                                     also needs to be explored to assist with
                                     rehabilitation e.g. development of cluster
                                     accommodation..
 Refugees/Newly   No specific        No specific gaps in provision locally for this
 arrived          provision by       group were identified.
 immigrants       Medway Council.
                  National Asylum
                  Seeker Service
                  (‘NASS’), Kent
                  County Council,
                  ‘Finding your
                  Feet’ and Kent
                  Community
                  Housing Trust
                  (‘KCHT’) ‘Moving
                  Forward’ arrange
                  accommodation
                  on behalf of
                  asylum seekers
 People fleeing   Moat Housing       Improved outreach and floating support
 violence         Medway             provision to be explored.
                  Domestic           Cross border working very important.
                  Violence Forum
 BME              Orbit              Plans to open BME elderly sheltered unit
 Direct access    Power House        The perception among stakeholders is that
 accommodation    Trust              direct access accommodation is in very
                  English Churches   short supply and demand is high in the
                  Medway             area.
                  Cyrenians          Stakeholders from the probation services
                  Supporting         felt that more direct access shelters need to
                  People (floating   be available for ex-offenders and hostels
                  support)           offering a structured environment.
                  Caring Hands
                  (day support)




Multiple needs

Many floating support and housing management providers have sited the
problem of multiple needs rather than any particular difficulty as a major
problem. People’s needs in any particular area may not be serious enough for
them to gain support but when people suffer from more than one problem e.g.
depression, alcohol dependency and some related health problems they
become very vulnerable and are unable to get the help they need from any
one agency.

Dual diagnosis (mental health and drugs issues) has been identified by the
DAAT (Drug Action Team) as posing a particular problem in the area and
requiring service co-ordination and protocols. This has been identified as one
of the causes of the increase in single person placements in B&B currently.
Housing are seeking a dedicated assessment process for housing applicants
to reduce the time required to make an assessment. Similarly learning
difficulties and mental heath problems require co-ordination of services and
action to ensure that people do not slip through the net.

Increasingly many tenants in general needs accommodation have support
needs. A recent national survey estimated this could be as high as 20% on
average. Such tenants can be provided with support services through
Supporting People grant, which will assist them to maintain their tenancies,
and prevent the re-occurrence of homelessness.

The council is employing two Tenancy Support Workers to provide a generic
support service to council tenants. Part of their role will be to assess the
extent of more complex needs within the council stock (e.g. mental health
needs, substance use) and commission specialist providers to undertake this
service. A further support worker will work with people in temporary
accommodation.

In the Supporting People implementation period, Medway Council urged
registered social landlords to set up tenancy support services if they had not
already done so. In particular, the Council want those RSLs providing
temporary accommodation for homeless households to offer this service to
support vulnerable homeless people and assist with resettlement. RSLs
including Hyde, Amicus and Southern Housing and Moat Housing Society
now provide floating support services and mhs homes are setting up their
own tenancy support service and have initially employed two workers.

The floating support teams will be essential in assessing needs and brokering
help from a range of agencies. The housing management service must also
be vigilant in identifying problems and referring people to the floating support
teams to prevent vulnerable people from being evicted.

Floating support is available to all three sectors including a pilot scheme
covering the private sector. Floating support is mainly funded through
supporting people although an additional post funded by the Public Service
Agreement has been introduced to support people in temporary
accommodation in the private sector. Demand for this service must be
monitored, particularly in the private sector, and resources reviewed at a
future date.


Young People

The Homelessness Act 2002 has increased local authority duties to 16 and
17 year olds and nearly one third of homelessness enquiries in the period
January to December 2002 were from young people aged 16-24. 38% of
respondents to the Homelessness Survey were between 16 to 25 years.

Early mediation is an important solution in terms of preventing homelessness
when family relationships break down and Medway mediation have been
successful in keeping young people with their families in 40% of cases which
have been referred to them. This is a well-publicised service and they are
able to give an immediate response, meeting the young person and their
family separately, and mediating between the two. The organisation will also
be offering a peer group mediator who has experience of homelessness. He
will be the youngest qualified mediator in the country. Wherever possible it is
essential that these young people remain at home with their parents and
mediation services will be crucial in this context. ‘Finding your Feet’ supports
200 clients in Medway. This is a project concerned with mediation at a very
early age as a preventative measure that has proven successful in many
areas.

‘Moving Forward’ was established 7 years ago to help young people in the
area. The organisation is concerned with increasing confidence, filing in
forms, signposting and making specialist referrals not just sorting out
accommodation. The project is currently working with 61 people dealing with
over 18s. Medway will investigate the feasibility of setting a crash pad for
young people who require emergency provision. It is proposed that this will
include assessment and 24-hour support services and will be developed in
partnership with ‘Moving Forward’.

There is some specialist supported provision for young people in the area but
this is often silted up because there is no ‘move-on’ provision Avalon Housing
Association has experienced this problem, they provide 3 or 4 beds for 16
and 17 year olds and Stonham Housing Association have 38 bed spaces
across 4 different projects in the area catering for the needs of vulnerable 16
to 24 year olds. Stonham also caters for teenage parents and vulnerable
young women. Many organisations will not assist young people with a drug
habit or a criminal record and as a result some young people are very difficult
to place and end up in unsuitable B&B placements. The Base Project is one
of the few organisations which are prepared to work with this group but very
too few placements are available.

Several agencies believe there are gaps in provision for young people in the
Medway area. Medway has a younger than average population with 15-19
year olds accounting for 6.7% of the population some half a percentage
higher than in the population at large. This factor will only increase in the
future. 5-14 year olds account for 14.57% of the population while nationally
they account for only 12.95%.

Hostel accommodation and bed and breakfast can mark the beginning of a
downward spiral for a vulnerable young person, as can any kind of
unsupported living situation where they may be drawn into criminal activity or
substance misuse. They can also be demoralised since they start to identify
with older homeless people rather than seeing their circumstances as a
temporary setback.

The Scrutiny Committee which looked at Housing Provision for vulnerable
young people in Medway concluded that multi-agency protocols were
required and recommended the appointment of a young persons housing
officer to be located in the housing department. The committee recommended
the introduction of a crash-pad facility and intensive support for young people
becoming tenants for the first time.



Care Leavers
Supported lodging are often the best option for young people leaving care but
the scheme requires better publicity and possibly more financial resources to
attract more carers. In addition move on accommodation is required for young
people who are ready to move on to the next stage in independence.

For young people leaving care the aim is to keep them in foster care
wherever possible and social services have been reasonably successful in
achieving this. 90% stay at the age of 16. Supported lodgings enable the
care leaver to move from a foster home to a supported but independent living
situation. Carers for supported lodgings are unfortunately difficult to recruit
and Social Services are trying to advertise the scheme more widely. Only
£110 per week is payable to the carer who may provide food in addition to a
room in their house.

Very few units are available providing accommodation for young people at
risk or leaving care and with the introduction of the Homeless Act, further
need in this area is a certainty. An additional 10 studio or bed-sit units would
be a very helpful resource for care leavers who cannot be placed in anything
other than bed and breakfast accommodation. Although there are about 30
care leavers a year there are only about 5 care leavers a year that need help;
many go on to university.

Better planning prior to leaving care could also take place and more creative
approaches introduced. The provision of a training flat, for example, for
young people to experiment with independent living and living alone would be
a useful facility. Isolation can be as big a problem as a lack of life skills.


People with mental health problems and learning disabilities

Medway has relatively low provision compared to national figures. There are
currently 28 residential placements, an examination of which suggests a
potential need for more independent accommodation.

There is a need for self –contained accommodation with floating support and
the Council supported the provision of floating support funded via transitional
housing benefit, now Supporting People grant, for this group.

National research has shown that there is evidence of different quality of care
and poor language support services, for people from the Asian sub-continent.
Contact needs to be made with the Asian mental health service users support
group. There are also issues for refuge and asylum seekers highlighted in the
HIMP (Health Improvement Action Plan).

There are not enough skilled people available to deliver services to this group
and it has been particularly difficult to recruit people for assertive outreach.
Some hospital wards are operating with a 30% vacancy level in the area.

Medway are supporting the provision of clustered accommodation (self
contained units with communal facilities) for clients with medium support
requirements. Roughly 10 to 15 units of this type of accommodation are
required.

There is specialist supported housing provided by MCCH, who have a
contract to deliver social support through bedsits for 8 people.
There are also 9 to 12 units available in Rochester for less intensive support.
Stonham Housing Association is also able to provide long-term mental health
support for 16 to 24 year olds.

A range of options is required along a continuum of care ranging from
intensive to less intensive. Hyde Housing Association manages the Churchill
scheme, a supported accommodation scheme for single homeless people
with mild learning difficulties.

A 4 bed shared flat has been used for people with learning disabilitites,
funded by Supporting People grant.

Medway Cyrenians have identified a trend of increasing numbers of clients
approaching their direct access hostel for help and feel that there is a need
for long term support for these clients. The trend is towards more people who
have borderline learning disabilities that suffer stress in the community and
need to be able to contact someone who can help them when they have a
problem.

Bed and breakfast can add to the stress as can hostels. People with learning
disabilities are very vulnerable and can be manipulated by other people.
Loneliness and isolation is a problem for many of these clients. Autism can
also effect social interaction and communication and clients need to be
placed carefully.

The facilitation of access to other services that increase social interaction
such as education and training and leisure activities can assist together with
suitable accommodation that recognises the personal difficulties of this
particular group and offers a more supportive and sympathetic environment in
which to live.


People who misuse substances

Medway has no specific housing provision for people with substance use
problems, although there are services that provide services to them.
Substance use can lead to loss of housing, and lack of suitable housing can
often be a contributory cause of substance use.

There is a lack of supported accommodation for people who misuse
substances and the provision of cluster accommodation (self contained units
with communal facilities) with medium support is required.

There is detox in place provided through West Kent Social Care Trust but it is
very over subscribed. A tender for additional service provision is currently
being advertised.

Courts frequently use drug testing and treatment orders as an alternative to
custodial sentence and to encourage rehabilitation.

The main problem in the area is the mixture of crack and heroin addiction
within individuals as the treatments for each are different. Protocols would
assist in sharing expertise and providing guidance on the most appropriate
ways to provide help and support and the most appropriate agencies to do so.
The level of support and care required is intensive and the accommodation
provided to this group needs to fully reflect this and provide a stable base
during rehabilitation.

A recent survey looked at prostitutes operating on the street and their housing
circumstances. All had drug related problems, their partners did too and
many were not living in stable accommodation. The survey concluded that
‘re-housing these women away from such social networks with more
appropriate social support appears key to their exit from prostitution.’

                                      Housing Status

                                    Street Based Group


       Car
       5.6%
                                                                   Living w ith partner
       Homeless
                                                                                  11.1%
       5.6%


                                                                        Private rented
       Living w ith fr iends                                                      11.1%

       16.7%




       B and B                                                       Council Hous ing
       5.6%                                                                       16.7%




                                                                                Hostel
       Squat
                                                                                   5.6%
       22.2%




    Source: Statistics taken from Street Based Prostitution in Medway - 2002

Medway Council has given an undertaking to provide three suitable properties
located away from the red light district for use in a supported housing
scheme. In addition, a housing support officer will be funded through
supporting people to work with street prostitutes.


Elderly people

There has been an increase in the numbers of elderly people becoming
homeless and although Medway has an adequate supply of sheltered
housing, some difficult to let there are concerns about prevention for this
vulnerable group.

There are currently 733 residential placements, which indicates a significant
current and future need for extra care sheltered housing. Medway have
commenced a review that will consider:

     An overall framework and vision for older people across Medway

     An analysis of options and best practice models.
   Proposals for ‘re-balancing’ existing stock to ensure that existing
    accommodation has a viable future and will meet anticipated needs.

   A strategy for the council’s own sheltered accommodation which includes
    an action plan to enable the council to meet the Decent Homes Standard;
    this should include an assessment of and advice on financial options such
    as HRA funding, PFI/PPP.

   Recommendations on standards

   Addressing diversity and choice

   Action plan for taking the strategy forward.

   A design concept for new developments: incorporating third party income;
    ‘village’ model; integration with other developments e.g. key workers

   An examination of the options for existing care homes to provide
    supported accommodation.

BME issues, family and social patterns are changing, and ethnic elders in the
future are unlikely to be able to rely on the same extent on the care of their
children. Demographic changes mean that there will be an increase in the
numbers of elders from minority groups needing support. At the same time
service providers are not generally geared up to meet their needs. There is
evidence that poverty and ill health is worse amongst black and ethnic
minority ethnic elders, and recognition of language and communication is an
important aspect. (Reflecting the Needs of BME communities in Supporting
People).

There is, in the pipeline, a sheltered scheme for ethnic elders to be opened in
2003 to be managed by Orbit Housing Association. The Council has also
recognised the need to make links with the Older People’s NSF
Implementation Group.

It is anticipated that there will be significant future need for elderly extra care
schemes. There are already increasing trends in the number of homeless
applications from elderly people. People are living longer and surviving many
illnesses as a result of better medical treatment. Many elderly people find
themselves in poverty in old age and the standard of their accommodation
may be poor. More people are suffering from senile dementia as their
lifespan expands and problems like anti-social behaviour can arise.

To address the need for additional units for elderly people Medway will be
introducing Extra Care projects. A scheme is proposed in Gillingham where
sheltered block is being upgraded to cater for additional needs to enable
residents to stay in their existing home for much longer. The stock, which
would not otherwise meet the decent homes standard in 2010, will be fitted
with hoists, doorways will be enlarged and larger open spaces created to
allow for a turning circle for a wheelchair.

Many front line staff are now better at correctly diagnosing problems and
there is a need to develop systems which will enable detection of problems
involving publicity and training for staff.
           There is a growing problem of accommodation becoming unsuitable as
           people develop new mobility needs. This is also associated with the wider
           issue of hospital beds becoming blocked when a patient’s home is not
           suitable for them to return to. The principle is always to allow people to stay
           in their home for as long as possible since numerous surveys have indicated
           that this is the preferred option for elderly people. For this to work adequately
           in the best interests of the individual and the care and support services
           working with these individuals, services need to be well coordinated and
           managed.


           People with physical health needs

           The physical health of homeless people is poor and is characterised by high
           rates of TB, respiratory problems and skin diseases. Recent research from
           Crisis indicates that in spite of their poor level of health, homeless people are
           40 times more likely than the general population not to be registered with a
           GP.

           Families living in temporary accommodation experience physical problems
           resulting from overcrowding, damp and unsanitary living conditions and
           homeless children are twice as likely to be admitted to hospital with high
           admissions rates for accidents and infectious diseases. 1

           To overcome these problems our strategy must look particularly at how we
           can improve access to the health care services and raise the profile of
           homelessness on the health care agenda. The health promotion team will be
           focusing on methods of addressing the support needs of homeless people
           through a dedicated worker and a health focus group.

           People with physical disabilities have the same problems as able-bodied
           people and there are growing numbers of young disabled people looking for
           independence with parents that are finding it increasingly difficult to cope.

           Another growing area of need is for supported housing situations for people
           with acquired head injuries. There are 10-15 people currently being worked
           with in this group. These injuries are caused by early stroke, road traffic
           accidents and drug and alcohol damage. Residential costs are currently
           £1,500 - £2,500 per week.

           There is also a significant deaf population in the Medway area. Bed blocking
           is an issue and although numbers are not large they do create a problem and
           cost £840 per week.

           There are currently 79 residential placements for people with physical
           disabilities. The majority of these are outside the Medway area because of
           lack of suitable accommodation. The figures in the supply profile probably do
           not include people living in the community in adapted accommodation.
           However, research from DPAA forum indicates insufficient adapted properties


1
    Critical Condition – Vulnerable single homeless people and access to GPs. Crisis 2002
in the social or private sector. A need for a database of adapted properties
has been identified.

There is a scheme for 15 and 16 year olds in Longford Court that is a facility
to help young people seeking independence. There is also an adult
placement centre that involves fostering arrangements where adults look after
young people in their own homes. They become respite care ‘befrienders’
allowing a degree of independence with support.

Shaulder House is currently a sheltered scheme that is less desirable and has
a high level of vacant properties. Some units are already being used in this
block for people who would other wise have to remain in hospital and
contribute to bed blocking.

£750k is available each year for adaptations but costs can be as high as 30k
to 40k per property. The DPPA has recommended that a dedicated person is
employed to stay on top of this information and that housing management
staff up-date the database with any new information about adaptations when
they inspect empty properties. The information should include not only
information about adaptations but also about property that is suitable for
adaptation. This information needs to be available for all sectors.

Life time homes is a Council priority and this is about adapting properties
beyond the current needs of individuals to enable them to stay in their homes
longer. Protocols between agencies and services would better utilise current
provision and streamline processes to ensure consistent and suitable
provision based on need. It would also ensure that existing services are best
managed and coordinated in the interests of individuals.

Medway has commissioned an audit of provision on behalf of the DPAA.
Results will be available in the autumn 2003.


People at risk of violence

Medway has the highest number of recorded cases in Kent of violence
against women, with particular concentrations in central Chatham and Central
Gillingham. Over the past few years the number of women accepted as
statutory homeless due to domestic violence has increased:

              1999/00       -       14

              2000/01       -       32

              2001/02       -       43

Moat Housing provide a women’s refuge facility and the police see their role
as creating confidence for young women to take up issues.

There are cross authority issues, as many victims of domestic violence need
to be placed out of borough. Women from different ethnic groups have
different views of what constitutes domestic violence. Services need to be
culturally sensitive. Whilst we have provision for ethnic minority women;
many women from these groups (older and refugee women) may have a lack
of awareness.
The Supporting People Team is represented on the Medway Domestic
Violence Forum that are in the process of fully understanding demand for
services and exploring outreach and floating support for victims.


People who are ex-offenders

Medway has one of the highest levels of offenders in the area and this
reflects deprivation levels. Research has shown that people leaving prison
who are homeless are more than twice as likely to re-offend if they do not
have permanent housing to go to.

Medway Cyrenians report that around a third of their clients (31% in 2002/03,
34% in 2001/02) are in contact with the probation service. Ex-offenders can
have very high support needs and are therefore less attractive to RSLs as
prospective tenants. The typical offender is dysfunctional and requires high
levels of support. They will probably have a history of deprivation, drug,
alcohol and even sexual abuse. They tend to fall into a pattern of sofa surfing
in their mid 20s and tend to live in communities to combat loneliness and
isolation.

Under the Probation Accommodation Grants Scheme (‘PAGS’) there are 21
offender beds in Medway. In addition to this, there are 12 beds with a further
6 identified as ’move on’ funded directly from government.

Ashford Medway Accommodation Trust work with high-risk offenders in the
area, many of whom are intravenous drug users and have mental health
issues too. They are one of the few organisations in the area who will accept
clients with dogs which is a particular need of this client group. HOPE
provides floating support to ex-offenders and they cover 80 bed spaces
through a key worker scheme. They also have 8 bed spaces and six flats in
the area.

According to the police there is a relatively high level of provision in terms of
safe houses for schedule 1 offenders in the area. Probation services,
however, feel that more should be provided. Cyrenians were described as
one of the few groups in the area who would accept schedule one offenders
and work with this client group.

Specialist resettlement teams are available on leaving prison and sentence
planning includes planning future accommodation. Contact is also maintained
with the probation service after they have been released. In cases where
there is no fixed abode a caseworker will help with application forms and
advice on benefits etc when they leave prison.

Day centre provision was seen as an important facility for this client group.
Loneliness, isolation and boredom can draw people into criminal and anti-
social activity. Caring Hands provides practical help and support, something
to do and a place to go during the day.

The Supporting People Strategy identified the accommodation need for:

              Emergency short term;
              Women offenders; and

              High risk offenders and mentally disordered offenders.

There is also considerable scope for the development of floating support
schemes. The Supporting People and Homelessness Team will work closely
with Probation Teams and attend Multi Agency Protection Panels when
appropriate, in order to develop services further.

Newly arrived immigrants/refugees
There are currently no specific services offered by Medway Council to this
client group. The National Asylum Seeker Service (‘NASS’), Kent County
Council, ‘Finding your Feet’ and Kent Community Housing Trust (‘KCHT’)
‘Moving Forward’ arrange accommodation on behalf of refugees, and provide
support and supervision, arrange access to doctors, education and legal
representation. The accommodation in the main is with private landlords,
although bed and breakfast accommodation is also utilised within the Medway
area.

Medway has 200 young (16 to 18 years) asylum seekers accommodated
within the area via KCHT ‘Moving Forward’ and ultimately need resettlement.
A key feature of support needs include isolation, poor access to language
support and insecurity.

‘Finding your Feet’ is a service that supports young people aged 16 to 18
years of age who enter the country as unaccompanied asylum seekers. The
young people face many challenges as they try to build their lives in a new
country without the support of family network and friends. Finding your Feet
provides temporary housing at a Reception Centre where the young people’s
needs are assessed before they are moved on into supported housing in
communities across Kent. Key workers visit the young people regularly to
offer advice and support to help them to enter education, training and work.

The accommodation situation is currently stable, but it is likely that housing
demand will increase as individuals receive leave to remain and seek
permanent accommodation.

Meeting the needs of Black and Minority Ethnic Communities

A survey of the needs of black and minority ethnic residents conducted in
2002 as part of the housing needs survey, out of 100 residents, 16
respondents stated that there was a problem of harassment in their area. 8
people indicated that a member of their household had suffered harassment.
7 respondents said that this harassment was related to religion, race or
ethnicity.

The survey identified a need to take into account the needs of young people
seeking independent living, elderly and disabled people seeking supported
accommodation and people who are living in overcrowded conditions and
require larger accommodation. There is also a need for Information and
advice services focusing on the housing and care options available to the
B&ME community, including the promotion of funding options and grants in
community languages. Information about grants for funding repairs in the
private sector was particularly highlighted given the disproportionate numbers
of B&ME households who reside in private sector accommodation. There is
also a need to agree standards with private landlords given the high
proportion of B&ME households living in the private rented sector.

A need has been identified to ensure that appropriate reception/interview
facilities are made available to individuals from these groups.
The numbers of minority ethnic applications for Housing Services is very low;
this appears to be linked to difficulties in the dissemination of information
about the council’s services.Information sharing and jointly developing
priorities is seen as a way forward.


Direct Access Accommodation

There is a high demand for direct access accommodation. A new hostel is
planned in Chatham in the old cinema, but some stakeholders expressed
concern that this was likely to result in a withdrawal of support for Power
House Trust who have been successful in resettling 73.5% of clients over the
last year.

Medway Cyrenians see over 1,000 people a year and have been able to help
115 people over the last year. They provide 26 direct access bed spaces and
8 minimum-stay beds that will shortly be expanded to 12.

Floating support is provided under supporting people to all residents.
Cyrenians will also take on tenancies in their name on behalf of clients and 9
people are supported in this way currently with mhs Homes. Collis House has
been very successful at working with young people and each has a package
of care. The demand for their service is very high in the area.

Power House trust deal with 284 clients every year and the organisation is
careful not to double count many people leave and return at a later date.
Although Power House Trust is located next door to the hospital they have
great difficulty in accessing medical services and in particular Community
Psychiatric services for their clients. It is very difficult to get Doctors to take
on clients.

For self-financing organisations like those in the voluntary sector that are
particularly dependent on revenue from Housing Benefits to maintain their
services, poor housing benefit performance has proved to be a particular
problem. There is always a danger that people will move on before their
benefit is paid

Caring Hands provides good day care including legal advice, medical support
through a Doctors surgery, washing machines and computer facilities. The
project is fully funded by the church. Day- time homelessness is a problem for
people using hostels who only have a place to go after 4.00pm and before
10.00 am. Homeless people need a place to go and something to do if they
are to rebuild their lives

The perception among stakeholders is that direct access accommodation is in
very short supply and demand is high in the area, although there was
widespread acknowledgement that the need for direct access accommodation
needs to be carefully evaluated. Stakeholders from the probation services felt
that more direct access shelters need to be available for ex-offenders and
hostels offering a structured environment.
    Our focus group discussion revealed that several residents are not in priority
    need and would like to work and save for a deposit but could not afford to do
    so because of the high charges (which include support costs) associated with
    the scheme. For these residents cheap short-term accommodation would
    enable them to save for a deposit whilst working. Staff also commented on
    the difficulties of accessing specialist support in terms of physical and mental
    health and drug and alcohol support services. It is clear that these two
    groups of users may require different services and that any new provision
    must provide integrated support services for vulnerable people but separate
    assistance with low cost temporary accommodation for those who need to get
    back on their feet. .

    Needs information

    Housing Associations state that they do not receive enough information about
    referrals to ensure that they are placed appropriately and receive the kinds of
    support they need at an early stage, preferably prior to the commencement of
    their tenancy.

    There is also a need to overcome barriers to sharing risk assessment
    information by passing information about how to work safely with clients.
    Work has already started in Southern Housing Group to identify their
    information requirements and the good practice should now be adopted,
    shared and rolled out to all RSL partner organisations.

    The Council recognises the importance of focusing on systematic needs
    assessment and in particular the production of a multi-agency assessment
    and referral form that can be used by all agencies in the area This information
    will feed into general needs assessment for Medway as a whole to inform
    strategies for future support.




8   8.     Pre-amble to the Improvement Plan


    The Improvement Plan is intended as a dynamic document; to be regularly
    reviewed, updated and amended with fresh action and targets as they arise.
    For example, changes in the economic environment, such as a drop in
    property prices, may have a major impact on the Plan.

    The Improvement Plan should be read in conjunction with the Medway
    Housing Strategy document which, outlines how the Council intends to
    increase the supply of affordable housing.


    8.1    Key Issues to be addressed

    The improvement plan focuses on the following key areas of action:
Increasing the supply of suitable temporary accommodation and
alternatives to B&B

The immediate problem in Medway is finding sufficient accommodation to
meet the Council’s statutory duties with regard to homelessness without
increasing the already unacceptably high numbers of people in Bed and
breakfast accommodation.

The Council will achieve this by:

       Nominating more homeless families to Housing Associations
       Increasing the numbers of properties available for private sector
        leasing and assessing the cost effectiveness of current arrangements.

Improving move-on from temporary accommodation

There is already a considerable amount of property designated as temporary
accommodation for the homeless but because people are not moving on into
permanent accommodation the supply is silted up.

The Council will:

       Enlist the support of RSL partners to provide move-on where tenants
        are ready to move from supported housing projects to a more
        independent living situation.
       Ensure that these transfer cases receive adequate priority to be
        offered alternative accommodation and that allocations targets reflect
        this.
       Ensure that PSL residents have incentives to move on.
       Provide better information to applicants about their options for a move.


Increasing the supply of affordable housing.

This is probably the most important objective for the strategy as increasing
the numbers of offers to homeless people creates housing problems for other
tenants. The final objective is the most significant as it will result in additional
property to meet local need.

       Ensure that the Council maximises nomination rights to RSLs in the
        area
       Private Sector Lettings Team to take this forward and negotiate
        private sector tenancies.
       Increase the numbers of supported accommodation for drug users in
        the area
       Investigate expansion of the DYSO scheme
       Ensure the development of additional affordable units in the Thames
        Gateway development area.


Improving prevention

       The work of Shelter and CAB to focus on preventative work
       Continue to support the mediation scheme
         Evaluate the Choice based lettings scheme
         Develop the housing options pack to provide information about the
          range of options available and manage expectations.


Supporting vulnerable people in tenancy

         Floating support in all three sectors needs to be fully tested and
          evaluated over time
         The directory of specialist accommodation and support can be used to
          sign post people to the most appropriate providers.
         Slow processing of housing benefit can lead to eviction and a
          protection plan is required for vulnerable tenants


Working with the private sector

Medway has no choice other than to seek housing solutions in partnership
with the private sector. It must therefore ensure that tenants are protected
and standards are maintained:

         Introduce good practice for private landlords
         Provide training for private landlords
         Introduce a wide range of options and support for landlords wishing to
          let their property.
         Evaluate the various private sector initiative to assess their impact on
          tenants and their cost effectiveness to the Council

Improve existing services

The best value review of the homeless service has resulted in a detailed
improvement plan, which will strengthen performance management, improve
customer Service and improve communication.

Multi-agency working

Medway is introducing the following multi-agency initiatives:

         It has set up a homeless families support panel
         It has set up a health focus group to support homeless people and
          introducing a dedicated post
         It will introduce protocols to trigger multi-agency support for vulnerable
          people at risk of eviction and a multi-agency panel.
         It will establish multi-agency protocols for young people becoming
          homeless
         It will develop standard assessment and referral form


8.2       Review Mechanisms

          The Improvement Plan will be monitored by the Homelessness Forum
          to ensure that those who have a stake in it also have the opportunity
          to continually influence it and provide advice. Regular progress reports
          will be provided to the Community Service Management Team and
      also other groups such as the Black and Minority Ethnic Housing
      Strategy Forum etc. It is proposed that the forum reviews the plan on
      a quarterly basis and that Members are provided with an annual
      progress report.

8.3   Resources

      There are significant cost implications involved in carrying out some of
      the work identified in the improvement plan, where relevant indicative
      costing have been incorporated. It will be essential to create additional
      resources to support the implementation of the new initiatives over a
      2- year period. Furthermore, it is likely that there will be cost
      implications arising from the review of the Homelessness and
      Allocations Department and subsequent new structure. The financial
      implications of individual elements will be brought before Cabinet
      members as the plan progresses.

				
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