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Reducing homelessness and rough sleeping

Cllr Sophie Davis, Cabinet Member for Housing Management and Homelessness, sets out our new Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy.

Everybody should have a safe, secure place to call home. That’s why reducing homelessness and rough sleeping in Lewisham is one of the most important parts of the Council’s work.

Despite continued cuts to our budget over the last 13 years, we have continued to provide help and assistance to those in need, supporting over 3,000 households facing homelessness in the last year alone. With the current housing and cost of living crisis putting more people at risk of losing their home, it’s vital that we continue working to prevent and reduce homelessness and rough sleeping.

Last week we approved our new Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy for Lewisham, setting out our plan to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in the borough. Our new strategy for 2023-26 builds on our previous work in this area, updating our existing plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its long-term impacts on homelessness and rough sleeping.

It has been shaped by the views and experiences of people in the borough who have experienced homelessness, as well as other community organisations and charities that support homeless households and rough sleepers.

Our first priority is preventing homelessness by supporting people to remain in their home or find alternative accommodation. To achieve this, we will ensure people at risk of homelessness have access to the advice and support they need, working in partnership with other public sector organisations and local services to connect people to the Council when they need assistance. We will also continue helping residents facing rent arrears to access financial support and intervening when tenants are threatened with illegal evictions.

We know homelessness is exacerbated by a lack of alternative accommodation, so it’s vital that we have a suitable supply of affordable homes for residents. As well as building new council homes for local families, we will work to bring empty properties back into use for homeless households and increase the supply of temporary accommodation available for families facing homelessness.

While rough sleeping has fallen in Lewisham in recent years, nobody should be having to sleep on our streets. Rough sleepers often have complex physical and mental health needs or substance misuse issues, so we will strengthen joint working with local health services to ensure they can access the support they need. We will also help rough sleepers with unclear immigration status to access available support and opportunities to find accommodation and review our existing provisions for women who are having to sleep rough.

People facing homelessness need access to a range of support services and tackling homelessness requires all public services to work together. That’s why partnership working is a key priority in our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy. We will ensure all Council services work collaboratively to prevent and reduce homelessness and build on our existing partnerships with organisations across the borough, including charities and other public services.

This strategy builds on the hard work that already goes on a daily basis to prevent homelessness and reduce rough sleeping in Lewisham and will help support our teams in their mission to ensure everybody has a safe, secure place to call home.

Read our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2023-26 in full.

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