Aberdeenshire Council has launched an initiative to combat homelessness. A new Prevention Service has been set up within its Housing and Social Work Service and aims to reduce homeless presentations to the authority by up to 25% by 2014/15.
The team of seven officers, based throughout the area, will focus on early intervention and provide the first point of contact for individuals or families experiencing difficulties in their housing situation.
The service is available for anyone with housing difficulties and threatened with homelessness including those in private rented housing, social housing, those with a mortgage as well as those with more complex housing needs.
The council approved an ‘Invest to Save’ proposal earlier this year to establish the team which is forecast to achieve savings of £300,000 in three years.
Prevention officers will work alongside colleagues from other housing teams to identify support and services which may be accessed.
Social work and housing committee chair Councillor Karen Clark said: “The council can now act early and provide more advice and information to people at risk of becoming homeless.
“The additional resources being made available will direct support to where it is needed the most and deal with the causes rather than treat the results of homelessness.
“We know that homelessness is caused by things like family disputes and the team will be able to engage with people to resolve issues and play a more preventative rather than reactive role.”
Statistics show that from 2008 to 2011, homelessness presentations in Aberdeenshire have increased by 14% against the national Scottish trend of a 4% reduction.