City of York Council will not extend its contract with the Salvation Army in a bid to take an alternative approach to end homelessness.
Council leader Claire Douglas said that the Salvation Army team would not be used to tackle rough sleeping in York to make way for new positions funded by a government grant.
The £260,000 secured by the council is to be used over the next two years to target rough sleepers and get them into accommodation.
“It is a matter of great concern to a lot of people and it is an issue in our city that we feel is really necessary to tackle and our aim is to put an end to it,” said Cllr Douglas.
The council leader wants to achieve the target of eradicating homelessness by the end of Labour’s first term in administration in May 2027.
The council will now enter a transition period while the Salvation Army’s contract with the council runs out in October.
Meanwhile, a national report by the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping shows the government will not meet its target to end rough sleeping by 2024.
Cllr Douglas said the report “did not show anything that we didn’t know”.
Moved into private rental sector
Denis Southall, head of housing at the City of York Council, said the new “personal” approach the council will take will mean “moving people more rapidly into the private rental sector” and “providing housing for some of the most complex people.”
The new approach will be done in cooperation with Housing First and Streetlink to increase responses to homelessness in the city.
A drop-in centre and a phone line will ensure there is round-the-clock support available and the number of properties available for homeless people to stay in will be expanded.
Nap Pads, structures for homeless people to spend a night in, will continue to be in use following the end of the Salvation Army’s contract.
York’s housing problem has been well documented; Labour campaigned to shorten the waiting list for socially rented housing before getting into administration.
Mr Southall said: “The cost of living crisis, the impact of austerity and welfare reform makes it really difficult for people on low wages to acquire affordable housing.”
The housing executive, Michael Pavlovic, was not part of the decision to not extend Salvation Army’s contract due to a conflict of interest.