Typology of Homelessness Prevention
89. Many activities can contribute to homelessness prevention. It may be helpful for common understanding to establish and expand a typology of prevention. This section sets out different categories of prevention activities with a few brief examples.
Precautionary activity (Early Intervention)
- Education and general awareness raising about homelessness and its impacts made available to young people in educational settings and youth work environments. SCSH 12 has developed a range of materials to assist in this process, e.g. My Space, My Place;
- Accessible and wide ranging advice and information about housing and related services;
- Corporate debt policies, which ensure that the impact of debt recovery mechanisms on individual households are appropriate and realistic by taking account of the entirety of the debt problems they are dealing with;
- Efficient and accurate Housing and Council Tax Benefit administration systems;
- Local campaigns to build community capacity, de-stigmatise homelessness and encourage people to ask for help at the earliest opportunity; and
- Implicit and transparent information sharing policies between relevant agencies.
90. Local authorities should consider the provision of advice and information to all through appropriate routes on the following;
- Debt advice - how to get help to manage rent arrears, mortgage arrears and other debts. Information on Debt Arrangement Schemes and National Debtline;
- Housing advice - where to go for help with finding housing, how LA and other relevant organisations manage housing, how people access waiting lists or Choice Based Lettings Schemes, how people access the private sector, tenants' rights. Information should also be available on accessing owner occupation including the likely income requirements and the potential range of mortgage products on the market;
- Mediation services to both prevent homelessness and improve and sustain family relationships for the future;
- Support services (emotional and practical support) e.g. The Shelter Families Projects; and
- Transitions planning mechanisms within Discharge Protocols.
91. It's important to stress the importance of referrals as a preferred approach, as signposting alone is often ineffective for people in denial about debt and they are unlikely to attend unless appointments are made with a specific individual at advice services.
Preventing Recurring Homelessness
92. In order to effectively prevent recurring homelessness, particularly within high risk groups, any personal housing plan should incorporate an assessment of support needs, which outlines how the tenancy will be managed and the levels of support required for tenancy sustainment. This is likely to incorporate a schedule for routine house visits to assess ongoing ability to cope, linked to an oversight of how the rent account and related financial affairs are being managed and good communication links with support providers and relevant services.