Work carried out during the pandemic to reduce homelessness, including the creation of an emergency housing team, should become permanent, a new board has recommended.
Established in 2019, the Jersey Homelessness Strategic Board has just released its strategy, which outlines eight key priorities to tackle homelessness in the island.
The Jersey Homelessness Strategy was developed in collaboration with representatives from social housing providers, third sector and private sector organisations and Government departments.
Among the recommendations made by the board are establishing a statutory definition of homelessness and collecting data on housing and homelessness needs.
Pictured: The board said the emergency housing team has already demonstrated how effective a multi-agency approach can be.
But the board also suggested continuing the work started during the pandemic around the emergency housing team and developing partnerships between the Government and property owners.
The board said the emergency housing team has already demonstrated how effective a multi-agency approach can be. “It will provide many useful Jersey-based experiences when working out how such a team could function in the longer term to assist the most chaotic,” they added.
They recommended the Government consider the merits of establishing a permanent emergency housing service, and how it could be merged with the existing outreach service provided by The Shelter Trust.
In addition, they suggested the service be based at the housing service hub they have also proposed. The creation of a housing advice service had previously been recommended in a report published in 2018 by housing consultants HQN.
Pictured: Islanders believe they receive better quality services from non-Government based services and have more trust in charities.
The Homelessness Board said the service could provide more universal assistance to residents and would have the potential to intervene at an early stage and prevent someone from becoming homeless. To do so, the Government should partner with the third sector to take advantage of “the strong guidance and advocacy role that many third sector organisations have with groups who may be harder to engage."
According to research carried out by arc4, islanders believe they receive better quality services from non-Government based services and have more trust in charities.
As such they have recommended the hub be set up “potentially away from existing Government buildings”.
In addition to the physical hub, the board recommended the creation of a virtual online equivalent for people to access themselves as well as considering how such can meet emergency needs 24 hours a day.
Pictured: A number of local property owners helped provide self-contained accommodation for vulnerable households and those who needed to self-isolate.
During the corona virus crisis, a number of local property owners helped provide self-contained accommodation for vulnerable households and those who needed to self-isolate.
“This demonstrates a level of social consciousness which should be explored further in the future by providing attractive partnerships with the private rented,” the board said.
“The nature of coronavirus and the need for social distancing and self-isolation have caused particular issues for the most vulnerably housed to protect their health and welfare during the pandemic,” Simon Burgess, the chair of the Board, said.
“An unprecedented partnership response was, therefore, required to ensure that everyone had a safe home to stay in.
“We have learnt a lot during the pandemic, particularly about the multiple needs of the vulnerably housed and what can be achieved to end homelessness in Jersey through proactive partnerships working together. This strategy seeks to build upon the excellent work that has taken place and to ensure that we continue to move forward in providing support and accommodation for those who need it.”
Pictured: Senator Sam Mézec welcomed the recommendations of the board.
The former housing Minister, Senator Sam Mézec, welcomed the recommendations, especially the one regarding the housing advice hub, which he said would “fill the gap which currently exists and makes it harder for Islanders struggling with housing issues to get the help and advice they need."
“In anticipation of this recommendation coming, I was able to secure funding in the Government Plan to deliver this and instructed officers to prepare to launch this service early this year, which will be more than just an information centre, but with caseworkers able to provide active support to those who need their help. I am pleased my successor as Housing Minister has committed to completing this work,” he added.
Senator Mézec said he would be publishing a proposition in the States Assembly seeking political approval to implement those recommendations to avoid any delays to “the important work which needs to be done to transform our housing system to ensure islanders can have homes which are affordable and meet their needs.”
Pictured: The Minister for Children and Housing, Deputy Jeremy Maçon.
The Minister for Children and Housing, Deputy Jeremy Maçon, said officers had been closely involved in the strategy’s development and would continue to work in collaboration with the Board, as well as the many other individuals and organisations involved in tackling homelessness to achieve its objectives.
He added: “I am grateful to the Board for this detailed report and am pleased that the Government plan for 2021 includes actions to be taken during the year that are fully aligned to the Board’s priorities.”
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