First Choice Homes Oldham is developing plans to help deliver six pledges with other Oldham-based housing associations, Oldham Council, the NHS, and local organisations and charities in Oldham and Greater Manchester.
Customer first director with First Choice Homes Oldham, Dave Smith, said: “There are many complex causes behind homelessness. So it can be challenging to help people in real need change their lives and provide them with sustainable and affordable homes.
“Homelessness is a growing problem in Oldham and across the country. We have seen a significant increase in the number of homeless people coming to our Housing Advice Service since 2015, so we all must do more to help.
“We are determined to put the right resources, services and people in place together with organisations in Oldham and across Greater Manchester to ensure they can get a home.
“New legislation, The Homelessness Reduction Act, will come into force in April and will revise existing legal duties as well as adding new ones. This is a real opportunity to also help those who are not receiving support under the current system.”
The key areas of work that need to be delivered were discussed at a Delivering the Homelessness Pledges in Oldham event on January 24.
They include increasing rehousing options for people in temporary and supported accommodation. Examples could include sharing a home with friends or family and adaptions to property for elderly or disabled people.
Improved support will be made available for those who are homeless and are moving into a new tenancy.
Affordable rehousing options for homeless people applying for housing will be increased. For example, advisors will look at what people need to afford a tenancy such as food and travel.
First Choice Homes Oldham and partner organisations will also work with existing schemes to help people who have barriers to gaining work and improve their life chances.
Training will be provided to staff and advisers working in rehousing and homelessness services to make sure they have up to date knowledge and skills.
The new housing law will require housing workers to work in new and different ways, such as coaching and mentoring homeless people, and creating personalised housing plans.
The Oldham partnership will also work with the Greater Manchester Housing First programme. Housing First aims to give homeless people a home first and put the support they need in place to change their lives, while they are living there.
The personal issues that can cause homelessness include a lack of qualifications and social support, debts – especially mortgage or rent arrears, poor physical and mental health, domestic violence, relationship or family breakdown, having parents with drug or alcohol problems, having been in care, the armed forces, or in prison, and getting involved in crime at an early age.
Causes outside of a person’s control can include increased rent, unemployment, poverty, a lack of affordable housing, national housing policies, changes to welfare benefits and mental health support, and asylum seekers who have to leave accommodation because they have either been accepted or refused leave to stay in the UK.
These problems can build up over years until the final crisis moment when a person becomes homeless.