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Pioneering project to combat homelessness gets green light to carry on

A GROUND-BREAKING project which supports residents at risk of losing their home has been given the go ahead to carry on its pioneering work.

p.h.i.l. - preventing homelessness, improving lives - was launched in 2017 by the Warwickshire Together Homelessness Early Intervention Project, a joint venture of borough and district councils in the county spearheaded by Rugby Borough Council.

The project secured an £855,000 grant from the Government's Homelessness Prevention Trailblazers fund, which challenged councils across the country to deliver innovative new projects to prevent homelessness.

Working with other statutory and voluntary organisations, p.h.i.l. works with partners to ensure the early identification of residents at risk of homelessness.

Risk factors linked to homelessness include losing employment, relationship breakdown, domestic abuse, mental illness, and drug and alcohol abuse.

By identifying 'at risk' residents at an early stage, p.h.i.l. offers tailored support services to address the issues which could result in the resident becoming homeless.

Since the project launched, p.h.i.l. has stopped nearly 260 households from losing their home, with a further 44 households helped to find a different home.

The project has also helped households receive more than £500,000 in grants, benefits and other financial support, dealing with referrals from more than 100 agencies.

Cllr Emma Crane, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for communities and homes, said: "By offering support at an early stage, p.h.i.l. can often prevent a housing problem becoming a crisis, reducing the risk of residents losing their home.

"In addition to helping tenants and homeowners claim benefits and grants, the p.h.i.l. team can refer residents to support services to help tackle problems which can increase the risk of becoming homeless, a holistic approach which has helped many households stay in their home."

p.h.i.l. has helped a number of residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In one case, a resident who was made redundant during the pandemic had fallen behind with both rent and council tax payments. The tenant also reported issues with damp and mould at his privately rented property, while a faulty shower unit caused the electric supply in the property to short circuit.

p.h.i.l. contacted both the landlord and the council's environmental health team, ensuring the necessary repair work on the property was carried out.

The team also secured a grant for the tenant to help with the rent arrears, and agreed a repayment plan with the landlord to cover the remaining arrears. A similar repayment plan was agreed to deal with the tenant's council tax arrears.

With the Government's trailblazer funding coming to an end, Rugby Borough Council, North Warwickshire Borough Council and Stratford-on Avon District Council have agreed to fund the p.h.i.l. project until at least 31 March 2022.

Cllr Crane said: "Seeking help and support at the earliest opportunity increases the chances of successfully dealing with many of the issues which can result in losing your home.

"We understand taking the first step and asking for help can often be difficult, but the p.h.i.l. team has a proven track record of delivering targeted support which can help tenants and homeowners stay in their home."

Residents can contact p.h.i.l. by calling (01788) 533644, emailing phil@rugby.gov.uk or via Facebook: www.facebook.com/preventinghomelessness

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