No stone will be left unturned as council continues to tackle pressure on homelessness services

Councillors at a meeting of Fife Council's Cabinet today (Thursday) heard that every option will be considered as the council tackles unprecedented pressure on homelessness services.

Committee members were discussing Fife’s Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan, and a plan to increase the “Housing First” programme.

Housing service manager Gavin Smith told committee: "Emerging from the pandemic, our housing and homelessness services are facing unprecedented pressures, and our staff are working week to week to deliver on a range of services, making sure that no one is left without support.

"The direct and indirect impacts will continue to be felt for some time through the housing access system and on the needs of households approaching services for help.

“We are doing everything we can to support people at this time and we are considering lots of different ways to help. A range of measures is in place to help us transform homelessness services which we hope place Fife at the forefront of service design innovation.”

Some of the new measures include:

- converting temporary accommodation to permanent tenancies to provide stability for tenants and ease the financial burden of moving to a new property.

- redesigning temporary accommodation to make sure anyone in temporary accommodation has fewer moves and spends less time there.

- starter packs for homeless people, to help them set up and keep tenancies.

Housing spokesperson, Councillor Judy Hamilton said: “The council is under extreme pressure to meet housing needs with the number of households using the service reaching unprecedented levels.

"We had made significant steps in reducing the numbers of households in temporary accommodation in Fife prior to 2020 and had almost eradicated the use of hotels and B&B accommodation. The pandemic had the combined effect of not only slowing the housebuilding programme but it increased the number of people presenting as homeless.

"Since the first covid lockdown, we've seen a steady increase in the numbers of families and children looking for temporary accommodation, which brings its own challenges. The council is also responding to a significant legal decision which has severely affected the numbers of temporary accommodation available in the short term.

"We are adding around 300 additional units of temporary accommodation from our own stock, partners stock and private rented accommodation.

"Working with partners we are looking at every possibility and option to put new solutions in place, including property acquisitions, and I accept that it is a very challenging situation.

"We are monitoring the situation very closely and officers are working to put solutions in place on a daily basis and doing all we can to support people who urgently need our help.”