The council will lead a new initiative to provide rapid help to those at risk of homelessness across East Kent.
Entitled The Rapid Response Service (RRS), the idea stems from the worrying reality that everyday issues people face, such as relationship breakdown, job loss, or debt, can become the catalyst to homelessness.
The project is funded by a successful £400k grant secured by the council from the Department for Communities and Local Government in partnership with Shepway and Dover District councils and Porchlight.
It will work with communities, organisations and services that people may already be using for support with common everyday problems, such as debt advice services, local GPs, or community centres, and collaboratively tackle these issues before they escalate into a crisis.
Working from within a number of these existing support services, the RRS service will also train staff to identify and help resolve potential trigger points in individual’s lives which could then lead them to being homeless. This support will be offered locally, and at a time that suits the individual, including in the evening or at the weekend.
In addition, the project will pay particular attention to identifying people who may be at risk of losing their tenancy, as well as those who have recently become homeless.
As a new and innovative approach, the project will add a new dimension to the way the councils currently provide housing support by changing the way individuals ask for help. For example, if individuals think they might have a problem with their next month’s rent or in the future, the RRS can put a plan in place to support them and avoid any potential crisis arising.
Strands of the RRS will involve developing new partnerships with organisations who already work with people who are at risk of homelessness due to unemployment and addiction issues. Alongside these organisations, the RRS’s ‘no wrong door’ approach will give people the opportunity to access support from a number of appropriate groups, such as Relate, food banks and debt advice services, all from one place.
Cllr Lin Fairbrass, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: ‘This is fantastic news and an extremely important addition to the existing projects which are being run across Thanet by TDC and the other district councils to tackle homelessness.
‘It’s worrying that we are seeing common everyday issues like relationship breakdown and job loss as a trigger for homelessness, so it’s never been more important to identify these issues as early as possible. By providing support quickly, before people reach crisis point, we hope to ensure individuals understand that they do not need to sleep rough just to be able to get help. By identifying and working with the variety of potential issues that lead to homelessness we have a better chance of avoiding it altogether.’