West Midlands Mayor Andy Street wants the region to be the national pilot for a scheme where homeless addicts are given housing.
Tomorrow, he will announce a bid for the West Midlands to host the radical new Government trial policy to tackle the rough sleeping crisis.
The scheme, known as Housing First, would see up-front investment in housing so homeless people can be handed permanent accommodation BEFORE they tackle drug or alcohol abuse, or mental health problems.
Currently, the Government adopts a ‘treatment first’ approach, where homeless people must show they are undergoing treatment for an addiction before they can be given permanent accommodation.
The bid comes after an explosion in the number of homeless people on Birmingham’s streets in the last five years.
At least three homeless men have died in the last nine months on city centre streets, one of them in a car park on John Bright Street on the coldest night of 2016.
Under the new scheme, trail-blazed by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, people would no longer have to prove they are ‘housing ready’ to get a stable and permanent address.
Bromsgrove MP Mr Javid visited Finland earlier this year, where the policy has been successfully introduced.
Finland is one of the only EU countries not to be considered to have a homelessness crisis.
A study last year by charity Shelter found that 9,560 people were homeless in Birmingham, with the total for the region standing at 16,100.
Mayor Street told the Birmingham Mail that although the scheme ‘wasn’t a silver bullet’, he believed it could go a huge way to tackling homelessness in the region.
“Sajid Javid has said that he is planning to introduce Housing First in this country,” he said.
“This is an approach first introduced in Finland and places homeless people in permanent housing before they become afflicted by issues such as addiction and mental illness.
“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.
“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.”