To receive a presentation from the Housing Options Manager, Ms. Suzannah Hellicar, on the current homelessness issue in the multi-storey car park at High Street, Aldershot.
The Housing Options Manager, Ms Suzannah Hellicar, was invited to the meeting to update the Panel on Aldershot’s situation with rough sleepers and the actions that had been taken.
The Panel heard that there had been an increase in the number of people sleeping rough or sofa surfing both nationally and in the Borough. It was noted that there were approximately 24 rough sleepers in Aldershot, although, it had been difficult to record the numbers of street homelessness due to individual situations constantly changing. The majority were men, aged between 19 and 65 and many had substance misuse issues. While there had been a number of attempts to engage with the client group, they had demonstrated an unwillingness to engage with the Council and agencies. It was believed that they had also been associated with anti-social behaviour in and around Aldershot Town Centre. 70% of the rough sleepers in Aldershot were Rushmoor residents while others had potentially come from neighbouring areas, where work would be carried out to re-connect those residents to their home areas.
The significant increase in numbers was due to individuals moving in with vulnerable residents which had then resulted in those residents losing their homes due to incidents of anti-social behaviour. Members were assured that the Council had been working with housing associations in identifying and stopping such behaviour.
Members were informed that approximately 8-12 homeless people had occupied the High Street car park which had resulted in a number of complaints about anti-social behaviour, hygiene and intimidation. Short, medium and longer term approaches were discussed with the Panel, in particular, the Council’s intention to seek a legal injunction under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which aimed to clear the car park and stop the anti-social behaviour in the Town Centre. The Panel was informed that while the injuction would exclude those named on it from certain areas in the Town Centre, the Council would ensure that they continued to have access to services they needed. It was also mentioned that the injunction would include positive steps, for example, the homeless must engage with Inclusion Services, the Housing Options Team, The Vine and other relevant services. It was explained that a multi-agency approach had been taken to tackle the issues and meetings for joint-agency problem solving had also been arranged. A multi-agency Hub had also been set up; a two-day event held at the Princes Hall which would be attended by Health, Drug and Alcohol services, Adult Social Services, the Police, Housing Services and The Vine.
Medium term options for consideration included eight existing beds to be made available to the most challenging and vulnerable individuals in Rushmoor and Hart, out of hours community support for the vulnerable client group, continued multi-agency meetings and also an investigation into whether the Council needed a more robust method of outreach.
Longer term options for 2016-2021 were also discussed, for example, to continue the multi-agency meetings and joint working to ensure emerging issues would be rapidly addressed by all of the relevant agencies.
It was concluded that while this had been a difficult and challenging issue for the Housing Options Team, the multi-agency approach had been essential and a review of the legal approach would be carried out.
The Panel NOTED the presentation.