Rough sleepers are a ‘visible problem’ in the town centre, according to Crawley Borough Council.
Members of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Commission were given a transformation update on the housing options team on Monday night, and the work done since the council department was hit with a large number of homelessness applications in late 2013.
The average time taken to process an application has dropped from 85 days to 34 for accepted bids, and 96 down to 33 days for rejected applications.
During the meeting, Ian Irvine (Lab, Broadfield North) said Crawley had a ‘visible’ homelessness issue with rough sleepers and there were pressures to do something about it.
Nikki Hargrave, housing options manager, told councillors there was a lot of multi-agency work going on alongside two outreach groups, but said: “There’s a very visible problem in the town centre at the moment.”
She added: “We are trying to raise awareness but the issue of rough sleepers is really complex.”
She explained that the rough sleepers were choosing not to accept help and the outreach team had gone round and spoken to every rough sleeper, but Crawley was ‘very lucrative’ because its residents were ‘generous’, as a beggar could earn an average of £100 a day.
The two main causes of homelessness in Crawley were short-term tenancies coming to an end, and friends or family asking people to leave accommodation.
Nick Hobbs, housing needs manager at CBC, explained that service changes had looked to remove barriers to making quicker decisions on homelessness applications, including making the Housing Help Point more resilient, more training for front-facing staff, and dedicated case workers to reduce handoffs.
They are now processing just under 400 homelessness applications a year.
Crawley Open House operates a hostel and day centre, for more information visit www.crawleyopenhouse.co.uk
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