Rough sleeping in Stafford has been halved in a year.
Latest figures show that there were seven people sleeping on the streets in the last few weeks. This compares to 15 in the corresponding period in 2016.
It follows a number of initiatives brought in by the Borough Council after it successfully bid for money from a Government pot aimed at helping reduce the number of people sleeping rough.
And a senior councillor has said there has been provision during the severe weather to ensure people have a place for the night so nobody should be sleeping rough.
The Government money has supported Community Matron, Suzanne Rigby, dubbed the ‘Angel of Stafford’ by the street homeless who she helps. The council also became one of the few UK wide to introduce their ‘Housing First’ project which has housed a number of people in conjunction with partners Midland Heart who run supported accommodation in Stafford.
The housing team became the first in the Midlands to be awarded the Government’s Gold Standard for their work. They are also credited as preventing around 600 people from becoming homeless over the last year.
Cabinet Member for Communities, Jeremy Pert said there has been a tremendous effort to get on top of the problem.
“We know each and every rough sleeper and due to a lot of targeted intervention our numbers are down by 50% against this time last year - thanks to initiatives like our Community Matron working with those who are homeless and those sleeping rough and through the Housing First programme, which aims to get people to be able to sustain their tenancy for the long term with appropriate support and input.
“Putting a roof over someone's head is not the major issue – it is ensuring that they keep a roof over their head that is the challenging part. We need them to work with us and other agencies so that they can address the issues that will jeopardise their ability to sustain housing for the long term.”
The borough has seen an increase in house building over recent years and in 2016 around 340 affordable homes were built – which was well above the target of 210.
Councillor Pert added: “There is cold weather night shelter provision in Stafford with a back-up, if that is full, of using bed and breakfast accommodation. So we can always find accommodation for those sleeping out on our streets - unless we were unable to because they would pose a risk to others.”
Rough sleepers are told to contact the council early when conditions are freezing to enable them to be given shelter for the night.
If people are worried about being homeless, or know of someone threatened with being homeless, go to our homelessness page or contact email@example.com for emergency out of hours call 01785 619 170.