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Homeless drug addicts could be given free homes in the West Midlands

By Pete Madeley | News | Published:

Homeless drug addicts in the West Midlands could be given free houses under a new government-backed scheme.

Mayor Street

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has today announced a bid for the region to lead a radical new trial to combat rough sleeping.

Known as Housing First, it would see a major investment in properties so homeless people can be given a place to live before they tackle drug, alcohol or mental health problems.

The Government currently adopts a ‘treatment first’ approach, which means anyone who is homeless needs to show they are undergoing treatment before they are given permanent accommodation.

The new scheme has been championed by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, and is based on a similar initiative in Finland.

Mr Street said of Housing First: “It removes any initial complicated tests, and in essence trusts individuals to turn a corner independently, with support provided further down the line.

“It has been proven to work in Finland and I want Sajid to use the West Midlands as a pilot for this.

“We are currently in talks to secure this.

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“I truly believe the West Midlands Homelessness Task Force and the commitment to a plan that looks at the causes of rough sleeping, puts us in the position to win this from Government.

“I know we could make it work.

“This isn’t a silver bullet, but if successful, people would be able to see a real difference.”

The Black Country has seen a steep rise in the number of rough sleepers in recent years.

In Walsall the figure has trebled since 2015, prompting council bosses to increase the size of its winter homeless shelter.

The most recent data from the National Audit Office showed homelessness has ‘increased significantly’ since 2010. The overall rise in people sleeping rough across the Black Country was 163 per cent over the period.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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