Manchester City Council

Tackling Homelessness

As chair of the Regional Housing Group, I am in Liverpool this morning addressing a Shelter conference about how we tackle homelessness.

In the North West in 2006, we had almost 12,000 households presenting to local authorities as homeless and in priority need. Particular issues for us include family breakdown, parents expelling teenagers or grown-up children, alcohol and drug dependency and over-crowding. The total cost to individuals and to our communities is more than considerable and if we are to have strong, healthy communities then we need proper, co-ordinated strategies to improve the situation.

There are several forces at work here: there is a national trend for smaller households, including a rise in the number of single people living alone. Particular parts of the North West have seen a rise in income levels, making it more attractive for people to move here, both from other parts of the UK and from abroad.

So we need to make sure we have the right sorts of houses and in the right sorts of places.

There is some good practice out there and we are launching today the North West Homelessness Strategy, which first and foremost aims to prevent homelessness, but also increase access to a choice of homes and develop plans based on a robust understanding of housing need. We are going to carry out research into individual needs, and understand better the need and supply of temporary and supported housing. Fundamental stuff and important to get it right.

Then back to Manchester for a number of meetings, firstly on the perception of the council and how it presents itself to the outside world. Then on to the city's planning framework and open spaces - how we look after them and make sure they are green, clean and useful, and encourage bio-diversity and how we ensure that everyone lives close to and can access high quality open space.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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