I received this email yesterday repling to the petition that was handed in. I will compose a reply to it by tomorrow. Is there anything I should include in the reply?
The gist of it is that they are doing all they can do, and stating the steps they have to go through when offering homeless people a place.
‘Dear Mr Bower
Thank you for your petition requesting that the Council guarantee everyone in the homeless protest camp a permanent home.
As you know, the petition has been classed as an ordinary petition for response by a senior officer. I am the officer with responsibility for the City Council’s in-house Homelessness Services. These include the team that investigates applications for assistance under the Homelessness legislation and a range of temporary supported accommodation schemes.
The government sets out the criteria under which we are required to provide accommodation, advice or an offer of settled accommodation. This is set out in the Housing Act 1996 Pt VII (as amended). The majority of single homeless people, including many rough sleepers, are classified as not being in priority need for accommodation. In these cases, a local authority is not under a duty to provide accommodation. Where a person is not in priority need, and is not intentionally homeless, the local authority may choose to make accommodation available if it wishes. Manchester has always sought to assist people who are rough sleeping in the city by making accommodation available outside its statutory duties. This would usually be in one of our supported housing schemes. We have often accommodated people who might not otherwise be able to access accommodation because of their previous conduct in a tenancy or because of a current chaotic lifestyle. This generally means spending time in temporary accommodation so that our on-site staff can provide support to the former rough sleeper so that they can rebuild their independent living skills in readiness for moving on to settled, permanent accommodation. We also help rough sleepers to access supported accommodation that is commissioned by Manchester City Council but provided by other registered housing providers.
Many rough sleepers have very complex histories and support needs that may make it difficult for them to access accommodation, either temporary or permanent. For this reason, a number of different options may be made available, dependent on individual need. For example, a rough sleeper may be offered short-term emergency accommodation to get them off the streets while more suitable longer term accommodation is sourced. Part of this process will include looking at the person’s history and undertaking a risk assessment to make sure that the accommodation offered is suitable for the individual, for other residents and for staff working at the scheme. This is part of a pathway approach based on the individual moving through supported accommodation into independent, settled living.
Officers from the Council’s homelessness services have engaged with the homeless people within the camp at each of its locations and continue to do so. We have been able to secure accommodation for a number of rough sleepers in either our own or other providers’ supported accommodation schemes. We regularly attend the camp and have established a drop-in for homeless people away the camp so that they can come and talk about their housing needs.
We will continue to offer support to all homeless individuals within the camp and our aim is to ensure that rough sleepers receive an appropriate offer of support and accommodation. We will continue to offer that support even if an individual does not initially engage with us, or one of our partner agencies.
I hope this provides you with reassurance that we are doing all we can to secure accommodation for rough sleepers in Manchester.
Service Manager, Homelessness
Directorate for Children and Families
Manchester City Council
Town Hall Extension
PO Box 532