Luton Borough Council is proposing to prevent homelessness by changing their strategy and intervene earlier before residents get to crisis point.
The council is urging residents to let them know as soon as they fall behind with their monthly housing payments or think they may become homeless in the near future so help and advice can be provided before they get to an emergency situation.
Luton has been experiencing a housing crisis for a while and the town’s social housing stock is at an all-time low and national budgets continuously being cut makes temporary accommodation like Bed and Breakfasts unaffordable. B&Bs are also unsuitable for families and residents.
The council spends approximately £4 million on emergency accommodation every year, which cannot be sustained.
Key goals of the new strategy include delivering effective early intervention and prevention with a focus on education, employment, health and wellbeing, preventing homelessness through delivery of rapid and effective assessment, using only the most appropriate temporary accommodation to prevent further social and economic deterioration and manage the demand by ensuring that it addresses over expectation and makes the best use of the social housing stock.
The strategy also aims to increase access to and the supply of affordable accommodation to prevent homelessness.
Councillor Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing at Luton Borough Council, said: “Local authorities up and down the country are facing increasing pressure on their social housing stock.
“The ongoing changes within national Welfare Reform, coupled with the ever increasing housing costs continue to provide huge challenges for households and particular those on low incomes.
“This situation has dramatically increased the pressure on Luton as we deal with households who are unfortunately finding themselves in difficulty.
“Our new strategy urges residents to come forward at the first opportunity if they think they may be in trouble. “This way, the housing team at Luton Council can step in and help resolve the issue – whether that be financial or otherwise, to avoid them losing their home and having to go into expensive, non-practical emergency housing - such as a B&B.
“Losing the family home is devastating and we will do everything in our power to make sure our residents don’t ever have to go through that – but we need people to tell us as early as possible so we can do something about it.”
The council is also working in partnership with Luton’s clinical commissioning group (CCG) to implement the strategy to improve the quality of life of Luton’s resident at risk of homelessness.
The new strategy can be found at: www.luton.gov.uk/housing from Thursday.