Early action to reduce homelessness

A new referral system to help people facing homelessness has been introduced in Cornwall. 

Seventeen referrals for people threatened with homelessness or who are homeless have already been made thanks to the introduction of the ALERT referral system, run by Cornwall Council and Cornwall Housing.

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The new system enables organisations like Jobcentre Plus, Social Services, youth offending teams, hospital accident and emergency services and probation services to easily refer people who are homeless, or who may find themselves threatened with becoming homeless.  Cornwall Housing will then make contact to provide the support they need.

The Homelessness Reduction Act introduced earlier this year includes a ‘Duty to Refer’ which kicked in on 01 October, although Cornwall Council introduced the ALERT referral system ahead of that deadline.

Cabinet portfolio holder for homes Andrew Mitchell says: “We are well prepared and were able to introduce this new system ahead of the ‘Duty to Refer’ deadline. Given Cornwall’s geography, we needed a system which is simple, easy and consistent so that other organisations, with the consent of the person involved, can let us know if someone is at risk.  We are committed to preventing homelessness.  We understand finding out that someone is at risk early increases opportunities to offer help and support before the situation gets even more desperate.”

Andrew adds: “The duty to refer must be more than simply a one-way referral into the Housing Options service. Rather, a wide range of public bodies need to co-operate and act on any opportunity or responsibility that they have to prevent homelessness and the causes of homelessness.”

The last official estimate on the number of rough sleepers in Cornwall suggest that co-ordinated action by Cornwall Council and partners to tackle the issue is beginning to see positive results.

Official estimates showed that 68 people were reported as rough sleeping in November 2017 compared to 99 reported the previous year – a 31% reduction.

Cornwall Council’s Cabinet portfolio holder for homes Andrew Mitchell said: “Ultimately, no one should be forced to sleep rough in Cornwall, or anywhere else for that matter.  We want to get as close to that goal as possible and we’re working to make that happen.  That’s why we have invested in prevention measures like the the ALERT system so that we can help people early and they don’t end up on the streets.”

Anyone who feels they are in danger of becoming homeless should contact Cornwall Housing as soon as possible.

The housing options service run by Cornwall Housing offers free advice and assistance for landlords, tenants and owner occupiers across Cornwall on a wide range of housing issues including:

  • Your options to find a home
  • Homelessness
  • Joining the Homechoice housing register

Online www.cornwall.gov.uk/housingoptions

By telephone Tel: 0300 1234 161

By email  info@cornwallhousing.org.uk


Story posted 11 October 2018