Agenda item

Rough Sleeper Navigators' presentation


The Housing Solutions Manager introduced this item which detailed the work being undertaken to target rough sleeping in the district.  The Rough Sleeper Navigators are two of four posts financed through the Rough Sleeper Initiative via DLUHC, following a bidding process in which EDDC had to explain out how the money would be targeted.  The funding is for £568k over 3 years effective from April 2022, which enables the team to make some longer term plans to target rough sleeping.  


The presentation set out the scale of homelessness and rough sleeping in East Devon, and detailed the schemes and projects in place to address rough sleeping including:

·        Housing First, which provides accommodation for those for whom other accommodation options are not available or have not worked out.

·        A Rent Deposit and Bond Scheme, which assisted 81 households into private sector housing in 2021-22 and 38 so far in the first six months of 2022-23.

·        Two Rough Sleeper Navigators who provide support for rough sleepers, follow up new reports of rough sleepers, carry out outreach work and partnership working in the community, and follow through cases from the start until a positive outcome is achieved.


Positive outcomes for people and households from a rough sleeping background include:

·        11 assisted into supported accommodation last year, and 9 this year

·        17 assisted into private sector accommodation last year, and 9 this year

·        10 assisted into social housing last year, and 3 this year.


The following points were made in discussion:

·        The number of rough sleepers changes constantly and there are seasonal fluctuations.  Whereas some are assisted into accommodation, others may return home or move out of the district.

·        Accommodation options are somewhat restricted for rough sleepers with dogs, since a lot of temporary and private sector accommodation will not accept pets, but every effort is made to keep people and their dogs together.  There is a recent case where a home was found for a person and their dog but a positive outcome would have been secured more quickly had it not been necessary to find somewhere that would take dogs.

·        Some rough sleepers are initially resistant to accepting help but the Rough Sleeper Navigators persist, with a view to forming trusting relationships over time.

·        There are more male than female rough sleepers and often there are complex needs including drink or drug issues but there is no specific factor common to all rough sleepers. 

·        There is a strong focus on prevention and as soon as it is known that a person is at risk of homelessness, the Housing Options Team can act to try to prevent a rough sleeping situation.

·        The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) is triggered where temperatures drop below freezing over 3 consecutive nights, and Councils are obligated to make contact with rough sleepers and offer temporary accommodation.  This can kick-start a positive process of engagement and a lot of effort goes into trying to address a person’s situation and move them on to more permanent accommodation.  It was noted that SWEP is in operation at the present time. 


The Working Panel then heard from the Rough Sleeper Navigators Leah Steele and Julie Brooke who detailed a number of case studies which illustrated the breadth of the critical work they do in the community, which changes people’s lives.


Discussion following the Rough Sleeper Navigators presentation included the following points:

·        One Member was concerned to learn that the housing cost element of Universal Credit is insufficient for a room in a shared house, and this is a key contributory factor to the situations people find themselves in.  He suggested it would be appropriate for this Council to lobby for an increase in the housing element of Universal Credit.

·        Members recognised the emotional pressure that the Rough Sleeper Navigators must be under and asked if they have the emotional support and training that they need.  The Rough Sleeper Navigators commented that they feel well supported by each other and their managers, and can access counselling if necessary through the Employee Assistance Programme.


The Strategic Lead – Housing, Health & Environment thanked the Rough Sleeper Navigators for the difficult work they do with some very good outcomes, often following very persistent interventions for people who initially do not want to be helped.