The number of young people sleeping rough in Denbighshire has risen, and the problem is expected to get worse.
A review carried out by the county council found that young people are becoming increasingly affected by high unemployment, low incomes, welfare reform and limited housing options and now work is to be carried out to tackle the problem.
The authority has published its first Homelessness Strategy, the main causes being a loss of rented or tied accommodation, parents or relatives no longer willing to accommodate, breakdowns in relationships, domestic abuse and discharge from prison. Over the past two years there has been an rise in the use of temporary accommodation, with too much use being made of bed and breakfast premises.
“We need to continue to source more suitable temporary accommodation properties to avoid the use of bed & breakfast,” says the report. “Further work is needed to fully understand the temporary accommodation requirements.”
The county has a very high proportion of single people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, and options are needed to help them, including lodgings, house-shares and high-quality bedsits.
The review identified that young people were over-represented in the homeless population, with a recent rise in the number sleeping rough.
“Further welfare reform is likely to adversely affect young people, further reducing the housing options available to them,” says the report.
To help reduce the problem the council is to commission work in schools and youth organisations to raise awareness of the available housing options and the risks of homelessness. Prevention will focus on supporting young people to remain at home with the family or in wider family networks where appropriate and safe to do so.”
Former prisoners are also said to account for “a significant number” of people accessing the homelessness prevention services, so a more co-ordinated approach is called for in supporting people leaving custody.
In her report introduction Cllr Bobby Feeley, lead member for well-being and independence, says: “Factors such as poverty, poor physical and mental health, substance misuse and addiction, domestic abuse, chaotic lifestyles and offending history are often far too common in the lives of people threatened with homelessness. These issues cannot be addressed effectively by any single agency on its own. Working together we can make a really positive difference across Denbighshire to homelessness and its impact not only upon those directly affected but also to our communities and neighbourhoods.”
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