SALFORD City Council has announced plans to launch a multi-agency commission to tackle the region’s homelessness.
Due to be implemented at the end of April, No Place to Call Home will amalgamate different organisations in the area to help those who have experienced homelessness, providing temporary accommodation, advice on health, education and employment.
The measure comes a month after Salford’s City Mayor Paul Dennett announced a £3 million fund to tackle poverty in Salford after it was revealed over a quarter of children in the area live in poverty and one in six households rely on tax credits to top up low wages.
VIDEO from Manchester Evening News: Salford Council mayor Paul Dennett and MP Rebecca Long-Bailey take an eye-opening look at the state of Manchester’s homelessness
Lead member for housing and neighbourhoods Councillor Paul Longshaw said: “Everyone in Salford is trying to help homeless people and doing some fantastic work but it’s like pushing a boulder uphill.
“This is a national crisis, which is getting worse and worse with a shortage of affordable homes and a system that is failing people leaving them sleeping rough or in unsuitable, unsettled temporary accommodation.
“We need everyone in Salford – housing associations, councils, charities, community groups, advice services and health organisations to work together and look at this in the round.
“If we can get timely advice and the right support in place we can prevent people becoming homeless while working to address the housing shortage and help people on the streets.”
More than 2,500 empty or derelict properties have been refurbished since 2011 to help cope with Salford’s housing pressures, boasting an average of 1.7 per cent of empty properties compared to 5.7 per cent in 2011.
There has been a 50 per cent increase in homelessness in Greater Manchester since 2010. The risk of repossession or eviction is greatest in Manchester and Salford where approximately 1 in 62 households are are affected.
As part of this new measure the council has approved a one-year contract with social housing provider Riverside Housing Group and are offering an additional 19 temporary beds to homeless shelters.
Councillor Longshaw added: “Over the last year we’ve done a lot to support homeless people, from funding to keep Salford Women’s Aid Centre open to working with Salix Homes to provide cold weather shelters and more temporary housing and Greater Manchester West Mental Health Foundation Trust to improve mental health support services.”
Salford is ranked the 22 most deprived local authority in the UK with nearly a quarter of jobs across Salford paying less than the foundation minimum wage.
Annette Maudsley, project coordinator for Manchester-based homeless charity – Greater Manchester Together highlighted that whilst personal traumas, sudden life changes and an inability to readjust to life off the street are triggers for the rise in homelessness, authorities have a duty of responsibility in providing greater financial advice.
She said: “Some of the men that have come into the centre have had a sudden trauma in life, they’ve lost everything, they’ve lost their job, they’ve lost their apartment, because in society these days people aren’t taught to save money, everything’s on credit.”
She also stressed the importance of seeking help early on: “The drink and the drugs come from the first few days or weeks on the street, because you’re on the street and you don’t know how to deal with it.
“If someone offers you something you take it because your hope goes. That’s why seeking help in those first few days is so important.
“Everyone’s story is so different and a lot of people don’t know what help they can get.”
The charity, which works in partnership with homeless advice centre, Booths Centre, has been rolling out a six month scheme offering overnight accommodation to vulnerable homeless men across the city. However, many of the churches used to house people overnight can only accommodate up to thirty people per night, on a first come first served basis.
Salford City Council are anticipating the approval of the Homelessness Reduction Bill, due to have its third reading in the House of Lords. If the bill is approved, it will make significant changes to the legal duties carried out by local authorities in relation to homelessness.