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Westminster to train residents in early homeless interventions

The Palace of Westminster.

Westminster City Council is consulting residents on plans to train community leaders to spot people at risk of becoming homeless.

Under the proposals, part of the council’s draft Homelessness Strategy, leaders from resident, faith, and community groups – called ‘community champions’ – will be trained to recognise the signs that someone may become homeless and refer them to the council’s Early Intervention Trailblazer Service.

Local groups involved with the scheme will also be asked to sign up to a Homelessness Prevention Charter which commits them to work together to tackle homelessness.

The council hopes the move will help identify people at risk of homelessness before they lose their home, when they become harder to help due to London’s challenging property market.

Cllr Andrew Smith, Westminster City Council cabinet member for housing services, said: ‘Tackling homelessness means working together. The challenges are huge, but by intervening early we can use our resources more effectively and make an even bigger difference to people’s lives.

‘Local communities can have a role to play and may help spot the signs someone is at risk of homeless and refer them to us early enough to get the support they need.’

Westminster City Council’s draft Homelessness Strategy for the next five years includes plans to continue its Early Intervention Trailblazer Service, which prevented 99% of people it reached out to last year from becoming homeless.

The service provides support and expert advice to those at risk of homelessness and contacted 220 Westminster residents last year.

The council also plans to continue helping people with homelessness worries through its Housing Solutions Service, which put together 966 plans in 2018 to help people avoid losing their homes.

Eviction by family or friends is the top reason for homelessness in Westminster, accounting for 44% of homelessness cases.

Loss of private rented sector homes and relationship breakdown are the second and third biggest reasons respectively.

The council is aiming to build at least 1,850 new affordable homes by 2023 to tackle the borough’s homelessness issue.

Westminster City Council’s plans are just one idea proposed to help tackle London’s homelessness, another being PLACE’s plans to deliver 200 modular homes for rent across London by 2021.

These affordable modular homes will be used to provide temporary accommodation to homeless families in their local area, reducing the need for them to move across London.

Parties interested in Westminster City Council’s draft Homelessness Strategy can share their views on the proposals by Wednesday September 11 2019.

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