Leicester city council has appointed five more homeless prevention officers to join its existing team of 13, to meet the increased demand on its services
Based at the council’s Customer Service Centre on Granby Street, the homeless prevention team is able to give advice to city residents who are worried they may lose their home.
This may include advice on what benefits are available, help with budgeting or dealing with debts, or supporting people in speaking to their landlord or dealing with eviction notices.
If officers can’t help someone to stay in their existing home, they will try to help them find alternative accommodation.
Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “We have a wide range of services to help people who are homeless, but preventing homelessness in the first place is one our main priorities.
I’m very pleased to welcome these new officers who will be providing a much-needed service to the people of Leicester.”
Cllr Andy Connelly, asst city mayor for housing said: “Like other cities we are trying to cope with the effects of benefit changes, high private-sector rents, and a lack of affordable housing. All of these factors, and the Government’s Right to Buy scheme mean that more people than ever before are facing homelessness.
“It’s very important that people contact us at the earliest opportunity, if they think they may need help to avoid losing their homes. The sooner they speak to us, the more chance we have of helping them.”
Since 2014/15 the number of households asking for help from the city council when they are homeless, or to prevent them from losing their homes has increased every year, up from 2,163 households in 2014/15 to 4053 in 2017/18.
In 2017/18 the council was able to prevent homelessness for 3,632 of the households that approached it.
It's estimated that by the end of March a total of 4,800 households will have asked the council for help during 2018/19.
More information on how the council can help people facing homelessness, and what their rights are, is available on the council’s website at leicester.gov.uk - type homelessness in the search bar.
City residents needing advice can also contact the housing options team by calling the Customer Service line on 0116 454 1008, or by visiting the Customer Service Centre at 90 Granby Street.
The city council spends more than £5 million a year on homelessness services.
Funding for the new staff came from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, in recognition of the additional burden placed on councils because of new laws around the duty of councils to prevent homelessness.