Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett has pledged to continue the fight against homelessness as Salford marks World Homelessness Day (Saturday October 10.)
Mayor Dennett said the council had faced one of its most challenging years ever with the impact of COVID-19 and that a tough winter could lie ahead.
He urged anyone worried about debts to seek advice now and pledged to continue the drive to support rough sleepers and provide more affordable housing.
This year Salford City Council was highly commended in the Local Authority of the Year award for its work on creating new homes and affordable housing and in tackling poverty which can lead to homelessness.
The council’s supported housing team also won two team of the year honours in the national 2020 Housing Heroes awards for cutting rough sleeping by more than 80 per cent and helping over 900 homeless households into settled accommodation including 82 veterans, but Mayor Dennett said the council would not rest on its laurels because of the scale of the challenge.
One of the biggest successes in tackling rough sleeping has been the Greater Manchester A Bed Every Night (ABEN) scheme, which Mayor Dennett described as ‘a lifeline.’ Salford also recently secured £417,440 of government funding to provide additional temporary accommodation for rough sleepers as well as longer term private sector options for them - the second largest allocation in Greater Manchester.
“When lockdown began, we had to move over 50 people from shelter style accommodation into hotels and single rooms at short notice to keep them safe. Our team continued their outreach work throughout, taking food parcels and offering support to people. At its peak we had 223 people in ABEN accommodation; now we are supporting an average of 193 people through the scheme every single night,” he said.
“We have a huge lack of decent affordable homes, which Salford is working hard to address but with the economic impact of the pandemic, the end of the furlough scheme and the resumption of evictions, I am worried that we face a very tough winter ahead.
“I’d urge anyone who is worried about rent or mortgage arrears to get help now. There is advice available including from the council’s own welfare rights and debt advice service which has successfully helped hundreds of people this year. Since March, our advisers have seen a 71 per cent increase in people making contact because they are worried about mounting debts.
“Last year we saw 307 new, affordable homes built predominantly by local housing associations with another 1,158 in the pipeline. The council’s local housing company Dérive has delivered 30 new homes since it was set up and plans to deliver another 77 and we have planning applications under consideration for another 100 homes which will be delivered directly by Salford City Council. Every home delivered is a success story but we need so many more to meet demand.”