Homelessness vision agreed after ‘worrying’ domestic abuse increase

A homeless person sleeping rough on a bench outside Norwich City Hall.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

A homeless person sleeping rough on a bench outside Norwich City Hall.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A council has agreed to adopt a new strategy to prevent and tackle homelessness, after a “worrying” rise in domestic violence cases during lockdown.

Norwich City Council has voted to adopt its new vision for tackling homelessness across the wider city area, after the coronavirus pandemic forced councils to house all rough sleepers at short notice - known as Everyone In.

A report on the new strategy found: “There has been tremendous pressures placed on households through the country.

“It is likely that as a result of the pandemic that there will be medium to long-term effects to our economy and local population placing increasing numbers of people at risk of homelessness.

READ MORE: Seize ‘once in a generation’ chance to end rough sleeping, charity urges

“In the short term we have seen worrying increases in the number of reported domestic abuse cases, especially in Norwich.

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“There is genuine concern that when the ban on evictions is ended in August 2020 we will begin to see a spike in private sector evictions as a result of households struggling to juggle their household finances with increasing debt.”

The council says it anticipates a 4.5pc rise in homeless households in Greater Norwich before 2026.

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But during 2018-19, there were 234 households in Greater Norwich where the main reason for the loss of their last settled home was because of domestic abuse - with 177 of these being within Norwich, 42 in South Norfolk and 15 in Broadland.

However, the report also stated: “It is likely that this number is higher due to under-reporting.”

READ MORE: ‘Everyone in’: Councils told to house homeless people by the weekend

Councillors voted in the plans at a cabinet meeting held on Wednesday, September 9.

Gail Harris, deputy leader and cabinet member for social housing, told the meeting: “The vision for the strategy is powerful.

“Greater Norwich is a place where agencies work together to support people who are or may become homeless.

“Stopping them from becoming homeless is our main aim.”

She added: “This is an incredibly detailed report.”

The plan focuses on four main priority areas:

• Flexible housing and helping people move on from domestic abuse safely,

• Preventing homelessness,

• Single and youth homelessness,

• Financial inclusion, welfare and economic growth.

Councillors voted in favour of approving the strategy.

READ MORE: Homelessness charities facing ‘desperate’ lack of funding, council warned

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