Two thirds of homeless people who checked into the emergency nightshelter in Northampton were moved on to ‘settled housing’ in 2018 - according to the councillor responsible for housing and wellbeing.
Up-to-date figures for the calendar year also show that two in every 10 applicants to the shelter failed to get a place - with 83 per cent of referrals accepted.
During the year, 151 people moved in and another 24 men were offered a place but managed to resolve their housing problems before moving in. A total of 101 were then helped to move on into ‘more settled housing’.
Councillor Stephen Hibbert outlines the ‘very successful’ year the nightshelter has had in his latest monthly report to be presented at next Monday’s Northampton Borough Council meeting (January 14) at the Guildhall.
The nightshelter opened in February 2017 and offers somewhere safe and dry for up to 20 homeless men to rest each night between 9pm and 9am. Guests are only admitted if they meet certain criteria, including having a local connection to Northampton, showing that they are willing to engage with local services, and not posing a risk to others in the shelter.
Women, who make up roughly 10 per cent of rough sleepers, are not accepted as the building cannot cater for both sexes. Instead, females are 'fast-tracked' into supported housing.
Although the borough council funds the service and three workers at the shelter, it is also reliant on teams of volunteers and community groups.
Councillor Hibbert writes: “To enable the venue to remain open every night of the year, volunteers donated between them a total of 6,630 hours of their spare time. On six nights a week, local faith and community groups also prepared delicious home cooked meals for the guests.”
The 151 guests spent a total of 4,469 nights in the nightshelter during 2018. There was also interesting insight into the demographic of the shelter’s population. Of those admitted, 84 per cent were British, and the guests’ average age was 39. The average stay for guests was 36 nights.
Twenty eight per cent of visitors had no income, 12 per cent were in paid employment or receiving a pension and 60 per cent were in receipt of benefits.
Nearly a quarter were part of a probation or youth offending programme, and roughly 20 per cent were part of a drugs intervention programme.
The headlines have not always been positive for the council-run nightshelter though. In August the Bureau of Investigative Journalism Local, in a special report alongside the Chronicle & Echo, revealed how some homeless people were being turned away when there were spaces at the hostel. A Freedom of Information request to the borough council showed the facility in St Andrews Road was on average only 52 per cent full over winter in 2017.
Local agencies working in the community say seven homeless people died during that time, three of them known rough-sleepers. Occupancy figures for winter this year were not included in the latest report.
But Councillor Hibbert added: “Although it is not suitable for everyone, the nightshelter has proved particularly effective at helping even the most entrenched rough sleepers to come off the streets, establish new social circles and rebuild their lives.”
Homelessness continues to present itself as a local crisis though, and as recently as last week a 38-year-old mother died while she was rough sleeping.