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by administrator @, Thursday, July 16, 2009, 18:25

A housing association has drawn up an action plan to help prevent homelessness across the country.

Jephson Homes Housing Association has devised a series of initiatives following workshops with staff in February and March this year, where examples of good practice were discussed.

Feedback from the workshops, plus information from a review of Jephson's services, was used to help devise the three-year action plan.

Sharron Gough, housing manager at Jephson Homes Housing Association, said: "Jephson has had a strong commitment to preventing and tackling homelessness throughout our history.

"The action plan captures this commitment and details how to progress over the next three years as a contribution to the Homes and Communities Agency's Homelessness Strategy, which was launched in 2006, plus the wider drive to prevent homelessness in general."

The Homes and Community's Agency's Homelessness Strategy also specified that a Homelessness Champion should be identified at a senior level to promote the delivery of the action plan.

Ms Gough, who is based in the Black Country office, has been identified as the group's homelessness champion and will ensure that the group reviews its approach to preventing and tackling homelessness, lead the development of the action plan and drive the identified changes throughout the organisation.

In Jephson's North, East, Midlands, South & West regional offices several initiatives are already in place to prevent homelessness, but the action plan will build on this.

People struggling financially are referred to advice agencies for early intervention, partnership working takes place with other housing associations and accommodation is made available to vulnerable families through a variety of partnerships.

But Jephson's new homelessness strategy and action plan sets out further targets which will be completed to help prevent homelessness.

The action plan identifies how the organisation intends to help local authorities to meet Government targets to keep homeless families out of bed and breakfast accommodation, halve the number of households in temporary accommodation by 2010 and keep the level of rough sleepers as low as possible.

A further target has been set to reduce the number of tenants evicted each year by 0.5 per cent at the end of 2009/10. This will be done by developing better money advice services and reviewing procedures for dealing with anti-social behaviour so early intervention can prevent evictions.

Progress on implementing the action plan and the impact it has had on homelessness will be reported back to Jephson's board annually.


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