Last week I wrote about the new modular housing units we have installed to help people who have been sleeping rough make the move to permanent housing.
This is just one aspect of the huge amount of the work Ipswich Borough Council does to try and tackle homelessness.
The Council supports and co-ordinates a large range of services provided by various organisations to help people who are sleeping rough. Outreach workers are employed all year round to identify and support people to get off the streets.
The Selig charity does great work running the Ipswich Winter Night Shelter. We have leased them a permanent home for the shelter in the former Victoria pub on Civic Drive and provided extra funding to convert it when Covid regulations meant additional work was needed.
As a result of these efforts the number of people sleeping rough in Ipswich has significantly reduced over the last five years.
Of course, prevention is much better than cure, so a great deal of work is put into trying stop people becoming homeless in the first place.
We have invested in advice services to people facing being made homeless and in working with landlords. Last year we manged to prevent 850 households becoming homeless.
If we can’t stop people being made homeless, our priority is to find them safe shelter through our homeless families’ units.
When Labour took control of the council ten years ago, Ipswich’s homeless families’ unit was based in a former Victorian workhouse which had families sleeping in portacabins. We have invested significantly in quality temporary housing and now have two modern units with accommodation that gives homeless families some dignity while they are waiting to find a new home.
The ultimate prevention measure is the provision of more affordable housing with secure tenancies – in other words council housing. We are aiming to build 1,000 new homes in a decade. Over 200 have already been built. 60 new homes were completed on the former Tooks bakery site early this year. And additional 40 homes are currently under construction and over 300 more are in the pipeline.
Homelessness is a very complex issue and needs us to work at many different levels if are going to reduce it.