A councillor has urged council officers to produce a homelessness report before temperatures drop.
Cllr Christian Vassie said he was “frustrated at the management failure to produce a report on homelessness that had been requested and agreed months ago.”
It followed council leader Cllr Claire Douglas announcing 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.
But Cllr Vassie wants to know the full picture and worries that when a report does come problems will be already amongst rough sleepers.
“The corporate director is promising a report will come to the meeting on November 13 but we are all concerned because time does not wait for this urgent issue that affects some of the most vulnerable people in our city,” he said following a meeting of the health, housing and adult social care scrutiny committee.
“Temperatures have dropped 15 degrees in the past week.
“We have asked for an earlier meeting and are seeking reassurances that there will be no cut in the services offered to rough sleepers between now and the meeting, whenever that meeting happens.”
Cllr Vassie opposes the termination of the Salvation Army contract, but Cllr Douglas said: “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.”
Rise in homeless children
Cllr Douglas wants to eradicate homelessness in York by the next set of council elections in 2027 and feels that having services in-house is a better way to achieve that than using the Salvation Army.
York’s relatively high housing prices have been well documented and at the scrutiny committee Patrick Looker, head of service finance and deputy chief finance officer, commented on the difficulty of building social housing.
“Building new council houses is not economic,” he said.
“If building council houses was economic then the whole country would be building social housing but as you can tell there’s very little social housing getting built.”
Meanwhile, the number of children in homeless households has increased from 28 to 35 over the last year
Michael Jones, head of housing delivery and asset management, said: “The context is the increasing demand so our housing waiting list has gone up telling us about their housing need and are demonstrating their housing need is going up.
“Affordable housing completions in the city in recent years have not been high enough to meet the growth in demand.
“We’ve got particular challenges in York around housing affordability.”