Show homelessness the door

A financial blow lands out of nowhere. Now you’re wondering how you’re going to make ends meet. Your landlord won’t accept a shortfall on your rent. You’re going to be homeless. You need help. What can you do?

Soaring house prices, rising rental rates, government cuts to benefits and a limited social housing stock mean that the fear of being without a home is a problem affecting an increasing number of households - writes

With the Homelessness Reduction Act due to be implemented in April next year and the government’s benefit cap hampering tenants’ ability to pay their rent, housing experts used the council’s ‘Homelessness Summit’ held in October to highlight the services available to help residents either find, or keep, their home.

One Brent-based solution is the new ground-breaking scheme known as the Single Homelessness Prevention Service, or SHPS Scheme.

Sajid Mallal, 55, is one of the people the SHPS Scheme is helping.

“I have been homeless for ten days with only the sky for shelter,” Sajid explained during his first SHPS appointment. “I came to the Civic Centre last week and was given a SHPS appointment for today.”

Alfie Startup is the SHPS Prevention and Relief Worker who is helping Sajid to find a home. He has been in touch with Street Link, a charity that ensures people sleeping rough are connected to local services and support, while he works with Sajid on finding a suitable home in the private rented sector. Alfie has also identified what additional support Sajid can access to make sure his next home is more sustainable.

Before the SHPS scheme, single homeless people, or those at risk of homelessness with few support needs, would not be eligible for any direct assistance to help them with their housing issues. The SHPS service pre-empts the requirements of the Homelessness Reduction Act, which will work with anyone due to become homeless within 56 days to try and prevent or relieve their homelessness.

“In the first month since launching we saw more people than we were expecting,” Alfie said. “The highest cause of homelessness is people being evicted from private rented accommodation.”

Cllr Harbi Farah, Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, said: “Until now, we've not been able to give enough help to most single people facing the prospect of homelessness. Now, we have the tools we need to get involved earlier and to work with people for longer.”

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