Post from the Early Intervention team at Brighton and Hove City Council
When does homelessness really start? Often we associate homelessness with living on the street or ‘sofa surfing’ which is when people are without a formal tenancy and live, day to day in different places, relying commonly on friends or family to ‘put them up’ for a few nights. However a few nights can lead to a few months leading to forced evictions and relationship breakdowns. Recent welfare reforms such as universal credit coupled with the high cost of accommodation can lead to a mixing pot of issues for the average person or family looking for accommodation in Brighton & Hove.
In response to the new Homelessness Reduction Act which came into effect on 3rd April 2018, we are getting involved earlier and looking at what is required to resolve the issues and or help someone to move to alternative accommodation when people are at risk of homelessness.
When people are facing an issue such as losing their job, this might mean that they are later at risk of losing their home as well. We give advice at the earliest possible time and try to help people either stay in their current accommodation or make a planned move to a more suitable accommodation.
We have developed ‘real world’ tenancy training sessions to support people looking for private rented accommodation. These sessions are given by staff who have experience in managing property and estate agencies. They understand and communicate the reality of private renting and can advise people who are looking for a home on what local landlords are looking for.
We recommend tenants sign the tenancy pledge. This is a document which allows landlords to contact us at the first sign of issues with a tenancy. This contact will then enable the council to contact the tenant to check everything is ok and wherever possible to offer timely support. Early intervention in this sense allows us to intervene before anyone is at risk of eviction.
If you have got into arrears or have recently transitioned to universal credit, we may be able to help. We can set up direct payments to landlords via universal credit to prevent further arrears building up. We have a housing link worker based at the job centre dedicated to housing issues, and are forming positive relationships with the universal credit teams to quickly resolve payment issues which can affect landlords.
We recognise the value and contribution of private landlords and the private rented market. We are currently reaching out to estate agents and landlords in the city offering bespoke and creative solutions to save on the often unnecessary cost of crisis led evictions and support tenants.
To prevent homelessness at an early stage requires the support of various groups and the community The council is often the last to hear when it is too late to resolve matters. If the city works together we can prevent homelessness.
For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org