Leeds City Council has approved a revamped homelessness and rough sleeping strategy aimed at making the city more compassionate, where various services collaborate to prevent and alleviate homelessness.

During the executive board meeting on July 26, the councillors endorsed the comprehensive report that outlines their approach to addressing homelessness over the next five years.

The renewed city-wide strategy focuses on preventing homelessness and ensuring timely and appropriate support for individuals at risk, helping them transition to permanent housing and reducing repeat instances of homelessness.

Over the past year, around 6,500 households sought advice and support from the council to prevent homelessness, with an increasing trend year after year. The council’s positive outcomes in 80% of these cases surpass the national average of 54%. Nonetheless, the council acknowledges the need for further action to combat homelessness and rough sleeping as part of their commitment to achieving the Best City Ambition and providing the best outcomes for the people of Leeds.

Developed in close collaboration with partners, the strategy incorporates extensive consultations with stakeholders from the sector and individuals with lived experiences of homelessness, ensuring their voices are central to the strategy’s development.

According to the Homelessness Act 2002, all housing authorities must produce a cross-service homelessness strategy renewed at least every five years, demonstrating how they will prevent and address homelessness.

The strategy is built around four key ambitions:

Universal Prevention: Ensuring clear and accessible information about housing options throughout the city, enabling anyone facing homelessness to access the necessary information.

Targeted Prevention: Identifying individuals at higher risk of repeat homelessness at the earliest opportunity.

Intervention and Recovery: Strengthening partnerships across the city to minimise instances of rough sleeping, making them rare, brief, and non-recurring.

Integrated Housing Support: Developing a comprehensive housing support model that offers a diverse range of housing options to assist those facing homelessness.

The report also highlights successful initiatives implemented in the city to tackle homelessness. One such initiative is the ‘Advice Aid,’ an online tool that provides self-help resources. In its first year, the site has assisted over 2,500 people, reflecting the council’s focus on early intervention and encouraging early customer contact.

Additionally, the council has acquired 30 properties across Leeds through the rough sleeper accommodation program, offering accommodation and intensive support to those in dire need.

Leeds City Council has an impressive track record of placing very few housing applicants in temporary accommodation, making it one of the core cities with the lowest number of individuals in such situations.

Councillor Jessica Lennox, Leeds City Council’s executive member for housing, said, “Homelessness and rough sleeping are really complex issues and ones that this council are dedicated to tackling.

“That means we need to be proactive ensuring that everyone has access to clear information and support around housing options prior to them not having a roof over their head as well as working with partners to ensure any instances of rough sleeping are rare, brief and non-recurrent.

“A significant part of the successful delivery of this strategy is the strong city-wide partnerships we have in Leeds, and I would like to extend my thanks to all those organisations that have contributed to the development and delivery of this strategy.

“I am proud of the good work taking place in Leeds Housing Options and the service the council provides however I am not complacent and will work to ensure that the council meets its ambitions set out in the strategy over the next five years.”