Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Strategy 2024 - 2029
This strategy sets out the Council's vision for tackling homelessness and how it will work with partners to prevent homelessness, support those who experience it, ensure there is sufficient supply of suitable accommodation for those who do and minimise rough sleeping.
This strategy comes at a crucial period in time. A national shortage of housing supply to meet demand is placing increased pressure on homelessness services, whilst at the same time, the Covid 19 pandemic and cost of living crisis have impacted on many households' circumstances leaving them vulnerable to homelessness.
In Bedford, we have seen a steady increase in the numbers of households, particularly single people, presenting as homeless over the last three years. Homelessness undoubtedly has a negative impact on people's lives, well-being and opportunities as well as creating a significant financial challenge for the Council. Therefore, preventing homelessness by assisting people to remain in their homes and / or to swiftly access alternative suitable accommodation is a key objective of the Council's priority to support families and vulnerable residents.
Despite the challenges we have had to face over recent years, there have been a number of significant achievements. These include successful implementation of one of the most radical changes to homelessness legislation this century, responding to service continuity needs during the pandemic, implementing Rough Sleeper Initiatives which more than halved rough sleeping in two years, and maintaining very low numbers of rough sleeping far beyond the Covid-19 'Everyone In' commitment.
Using government funding to tackle rough sleeping, we have seen numbers reduce dramatically because of the support and assistance that we are providing. We are fortunate to work with local stakeholders who share our commitment to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping. I would like to extend my thanks to all of these colleagues, as we could not achieve the successes we have already, without them. Over the next few years, we need to build on our successes and increase our focus on preventing all types of homelessness, including assisting less 'visible' groups, such as families and extend the scope of our partnership working. I am very pleased to endorse this strategy, knowing that it will deliver continuous improvements in how we tackle and prevent homelessness, and impact positively on people's lives.
To be signed by relevant Cllr or Senior Officer