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Housing Plus Group signs up for homelessness Commitment to Refer

Commitment to Refer

Housing Plus Group, which includes Severnside Housing and South Staffordshire Housing Association has become one of the first social housing providers to sign up to the National Housing Federation’s Commitment to Refer, helping to take action on homelessness.

As part of the Homelessness Reduction Act, public bodies became bound by the Duty to Refer on 1 October 2018. This is an obligation to refer anyone to a local authority if they are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Housing associations are not bound by the Duty to Refer but organisations including Housing Plus Group support the principles of the Act and want to play a part in its implementation.

Because housing associations work so closely to resolve issues of homelessness, the National Housing Federation has developed a Commitment to Refer. This is a voluntary commitment by housing associations that they will refer an individual or household to the local authority if they are homeless or at risk of being so.

Sarah Boden, chief executive of Housing Plus Group said, “We are very proud to be part of this commitment to support vulnerable people and families. A focus on customers, communities and homes is at the heart of our corporate plan because we see it as central to the work of an excellent social housing provider. We share the ambition of the National Housing Federation for every housing association nationally to become part of this initiative.”

Working to target homelessness  

It is said that each of us is just a few steps away from homelessness. Danielle Harrison certainly didn’t expect to find herself in that position with a new baby, on Christmas Eve.

Danielle had looked forward to having her baby in the Staffordshire village where she’d grown up. She and her husband moved from Cornwall before the birth and in the summer they welcomed little Eli.

“I was poorly after having Eli and wasn’t able to work. Things were difficult and then my marriage broke down. On Christmas Eve, Eli and I were homeless. I had no idea what to do. I searched for emergency accommodation on Google.”

Danielle and Eli spent their first Christmas together in a B&B.

“In the new year, South Staffordshire Housing Association helped me move into emergency homeless accommodation. A few weeks later they told me about a flat in the village. SSHA stepped in when I needed help. They were so good, not just with providing a home but offering help and advice about claiming benefits.

“I never saw myself as someone who could be homeless. I was working; I had a husband and family. Now I feel so lucky. I’ve got a secure home and stability for Eli, who has his own bedroom. This isn’t just somewhere to stay, it’s our home.”

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