Jersey homelessness report finds 'significant' numbers of rough sleepers

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image captionDifferent groups worked together to help people who found themselves homeless at the start of the pandemic

A review of homelessness in Jersey has found a "fairly significant" numbers of regular rough sleepers.

The Jersey Homelessness Strategic Board's review aimed to help understand the issue and how to tackle it.

The first priority in the Jersey Homelessness Strategy is to establish a legal definition for homelessness.

Among the other seven key areas are strengthening support services, improving social housing supply and producing better data.

The board was set up in May 2019 and commissioned a review between 2019 and 2020 to assess the problem.

The Jersey Homelessness Strategy aims to end homelessness in the island by tackling both the "visible form" of rough sleeping and the "less obvious" challenges of housing access, unsuitable or unsafe accommodation and eviction threats.

Guy Le Maistre, vice chairman of The Shelter Trust, said: "At the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, the demand for temporary or emergency shelter shot up rapidly, and there were too many people for the hostels to cope with and for people to be able to socially distance.

"Different organisations worked together to quickly find additional accommodation as a temporary solution. This was a real positive, but we need to have permanent measures in place to resolve the ongoing problem."

The priorities are:

  • Establish a statutory definition of homelessness and provide clear messages
  • Provide evidence of the scale and nature of the issue
  • Create a housing advice hub so islanders know where to go for help
  • Establish a complex needs team to take responsibility for resolving the housing issues of the most vulnerable
  • Provide a housing safety net which is appropriate, flexible and able to meet the needs of everyone
  • Commissioning and regulation to ensure housing-related support services are consistent and sustainable
  • Strengthen the role and supply of social housing to ensure that it is better able to meet housing need
  • Support private sector tenants and landlords to promote positive relationships

The exact number of homeless is not given in the strategy, with developing a more "robust evidence base" also identified as a key aim.

However, a survey informing the review had 121 homeless respondents.

The report found "fairly significant numbers of individuals are rough sleeping regularly" and an average of 104 people each night were living in temporary or supported accommodation from the charitable sector.

Board chair Simon Burgess explained there was no central service for people who find themselves homeless or in insecure accommodation to go to for help.

He said: "We have seen instances of extremely vulnerable people being placed into totally inappropriate accommodation, sometimes due to the lack of knowing of what to do.

"There has to be a better way."

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