This October, Chelmsford City Council is consulting residents, businesses, charities and organisations on its new proposed Homelessness Strategy.
Nationally, homelessness is still on the rise. In 2018, the housing charity Shelter recorded 320,000 people as homeless in Britain - a rise of 4% on 2017 and equivalent to 36 people becoming homeless every day.
In Chelmsford, the City Council's Housing Solutions team takes calls and email contact from residents who are threatened with homelessness. Last year, the team supported 127 households to remain in their homes or find new accommodation.
The team also works with experts in partner organisations to help with wider issues, such as domestic abuse, financial management problems or addictions, that in some cases contribute to a person's situation.
Once completed, the new Homelessness Strategy will steer the actions of the Council's staff and Members, guiding how they work to reduce and prevent cases of homelessness in the city. The Council has a statutory duty to help people in certain circumstances; however, the strategy sets out its aims to go beyond that by building a stronger network of support to prevent homelessness, identifying and developing more options for housing and emergency accommodation, and helping people to stay in their homes.
Councillor Stephen Robinson, Leader of the Council, said, "Homelessness is one of the most pressing issues that we face in this country today. Although the causes of each case can be complex and helping people can take time, I strongly believe that nobody should be without a home.
"We're realistic, but also ambitious - although there is no 'quick fix' and we won't be able to solve homelessness overnight, I believe that we can make a big difference to a lot of people and make our services better over time. Please take part in our consultation - an idea or suggestion from you could spark something that helps hundreds of people in Chelmsford."
Councillor Marie Goldman, Deputy Leader, said, "When we hear the word 'homeless', our first thought is often of somebody sleeping rough. People who literally have no roof over their heads are in great need - but it often goes unrecognised that there are also thousands of people in the UK who form the 'invisible homeless', sleeping on friends' sofas, living in temporary accommodation or in their cars. We want a Strategy that helps us to help all of them, and we would very much like to hear your views on our plans."
Have your say today at: www.chelmsford.gov.uk/homeless-strategy.
The consultation closes on 31 October. All comments will be read and will be used to create a final version of the new Homelessness Strategy, which will be considered by Members at a public meeting of the Council this winter (date to be announced).
Wednesday 2 October 2019.