NEARLY £10million of government funding for a project to get rough sleepers off the streets in the West Midlands has been announced.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has launched the project called Housing First.
Today the government confirmed £9.6million funding for the authority’s homelessness task force to pilot the project as rough sleeping levels in the West Midlands continues to present a problem.
It is based on the successful Housing First approach to supporting rough sleepers into long-term accommodation which originated in Finland.
The scheme will involve multi-agency cooperation with housing providers, charities and the seven full member local authorities.
Across the West Midlands, specialist Street Intervention Teams will identify and work with rough sleepers who will be given support through a total of 225 tenancies each year.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street, who says he will be overseeing the task force, visited Helsinki to see the ‘significant’ impact Housing First had on reducing the number of rough sleepers.
He said: “Having seen Housing First in action, I can vouch for the positive impact it has on supporting rough sleepers and came back determined we trial it here in the West Midlands.
“In essence, it can provide people who are homeless with a new start, somewhere to call home.
“From there, they will be given support to help them rebuild their lives.
“The latest figures suggest a modest decrease in the last 12 months in the West Midlands – I hope funding for projects like Housing First will help us continue and accelerate this progress.”
Street said Housing First offers safe and secure accommodation, alongside intensive support to help them recover from complex health issues such as substance abuse and mental health difficulties.
Initially, it will seek to work with long-term rough sleepers to help them off the streets and eventually will assist individuals at risk of homelessness and those with particularly challenging needs.
Jean Templeton, chair of the mayor’s Homelessness Task Force, said: “A huge amount of work has gone into preparing the bid to government for this pilot and we are really pleased with the outcome.
“Now the funding is confirmed, we can really push on.
“We’ve done a lot of the groundwork in terms of sourcing accommodation and developing the systems.
“Now, we are aiming to start moving individuals into Housing First tenancies within the next three to six months.”