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Homeless housing project at risk after budget cuts

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A housing project for homeless young people is under threat of closure after its council contract was axed due to budget cuts.

Streams Supported Housing based at Gladstone House, in Walsall, provides accommodation for 21 young adults for up to two years to help them get on their feet.

The facility, that is run by charity First Base Walsall in partnership with YMCA Black Country Group, is facing closure at the end of the month after town hall chiefs ended the contract.

See also: £4.5m redundancy payments at Walsall Council.

Walsall Council said after a review of supported housing provision across the borough it will cut the number of rooms it is prepared to fund across the borough, currently managed by various social landlords, from 97 to up to 60 rooms.

The council has reduced its annual budget for accommodation for the young and homeless by £200,000 to £517,000. Under proposed arrangements the 60 rooms will get £251,000; supported lodgings will cost £50,000; while a further £216,000 will go towards initiatives for family mediation and work to protect vulnerable under 25s.

The council has to save £21 million this financial year to balance the books.

See also: Plans for new Walsall swimming pool scrapped.

The Streams project is based in a block of low-rise bedsits, in Hospital Street, Birchills. Staff offer assistance with 24-hour support including advice on education, jobs, training, and personal issues aimed at helping the young people to live independently once they move out.

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In a statement YMCA Black Country Group said: "Local charity First Base Walsall has been providing supported housing to vulnerable young people in Walsall for the past 17 years. It recently received confirmation from Walsall Council that its supported housing contract will not be extended further and will terminate on September 30, 2014. This is due to significant budget cuts.

"The charity will be working closely with the residents of its Streams project over the coming weeks, in order to address their support needs and find suitable alternative accommodation within Walsall Council's new provision. The charity is being supported by YMCA Black Country Group which is in ongoing discussions with the council regarding the transition arrangements."

The council said a review of existing homeless provision was launched last year in consultation with residents, aged 16 to 25. It said its contract involving 97 rooms with housing providers ends in October.

Cabinet member for adult social care Councillor Diane Coughlan said: "We want to create more sustainable solutions than supported temporary housing and recognise that in some cases young people may be able to return to live with families or friends in communities they feel safe and happy in."

See also: Residents urged to have say as Walsall Council plans to save £85m.

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