A new strategy for tackling homelessness was criticised by the chief executive of the city’s main hostel.
Jonathan Sutton, chief executive of St Paul’s Hostel, said the document titled ‘Worcestershire’s Strategic Direction for Tackling Homelessness’ lacked an objective and said he wanted to see specific aims – such as ending rough sleeping in the city – as well as a fixed date to work towards.
He said: “The document has ‘strategic’ in the title but I would argue it is not a strategy.
“There is lots of good stuff in the document but it doesn’t articulate or express how those things will have an impact on the ends.
“We need means to do the weight to achieve the ends. That’s the essence of strategies.”
Mr Sutton also questioned why there was a lack of governance in the homelessness strategy – especially as it would be using tax-payer money.
“In the document, I kept asking myself who is accountable?” he said. “How do you define whether or not this is working?”
The strategy has three key priorities to tackling homelessness including preventing it at a much earlier stage, providing flexible care for people in crisis and improving the supply of good quality and affordable supported housing.
Worcestershire Strategic Housing Partnership would be responsible for executing the plan.
At a meeting of the city council’s communities committee on Wednesday (October 24), in which the strategy was formally adopted, Councillor Tom Collins said he echoed much of Mr Sutton’s criticisms.
Councillor Collins said: “I would like us to sign up to a strategic document but I would like us to sign up to a slightly more far-reaching, slightly more holistic and perhaps a slightly more specific strategic document.
“There is a commitment to end rough sleeping but I would like to end homeless and I would like to believe that our strategy is going to get there.
“I welcome signing up to a document but I would like to see a bigger document and perhaps a more high-resolution document than this one.”
Cllr Collins added that as a housing document it reached “very far” but as a strategy for tackling homelessness, it took a housing angle rather than a ‘how do we tackle homelessness’ angle.
He said: “If this is our top-level document that we have, I feel we should be looking wider at all the problems that affect a person and cause homelessness and tackle it sooner than when somebody presents themselves and says ‘I am homeless’.
“Homelessness in the end is caused by trauma in childhood or adulthood, it is caused by poverty, it caused by drugs and alcohol, it is caused by relationship breakdown.
“These are all things that we can be addressing and if we did so, we would end homelessness.”