Homeless in St Albans to get more support after creation of new council role

Open Door nightshelter, a provision for homeless people in St Albans. Picture: Hightown Housing Asso

Open Door nightshelter, a provision for homeless people in St Albans. Picture: Hightown Housing Association - Credit: Archant

Homeless people in St Albans are going to be given more support with the recruitment of a full-time caseworker.

The government-funded role of homelessness assessment advisor has been created by the district council.

They will assist with an increase in approaches to the council from people struggling to find a home.

This follows the appointment last year of a specialist homelessness advisor to work with rough sleepers and assist them in securing permanent accommodation.

The restructuring of the council's housing support team aims to provide increased support to those people in temporary accommodation.

A number of new roles will be created, while some existing ones will be ended - with two potential staff redundancies.

The council said that the changes are not driven by a need to save money, with staff numbers remaining almost the same at seven full-time equivalent posts.

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Instead, they are a response to an increase in demand for particular homeless services following the introduction of the Homeless Reduction Act.

Details were given to a meeting of the council's cabinet on Thursday, January 23 with approval being given to the changes.

Portfolio holder for housing, inclusion and protection Cllr Jacqui Taylor said: "There has been a significant rise in the number of homeless people seeking help from the council, including those who are suffering from complex issues.

"These may be people sleeping rough on the streets or people on our housing register, waiting for a home, who are currently in temporary accommodation.

"The recruitment of a new dedicated caseworker and the changes to our housing support team will mean we are better equipped to deal with this very difficult challenge.

"The restructuring is not a cost-cutting exercise - indeed there will be a slight rise in the salary total - but a considered response to the increase in demand for support services. We are ensuring that we make the best possible use of our resources to help the homeless and rough sleepers."

The city already has Open Door nightshelter on Bricket Road, Centre 33 and a range of voluntary and statutory services which support the homeless.