The development of a homelessness strategy at Haringey Council

50What was the problem?
The London Borough of Haringey currently houses over 5,000 homeless households in high-cost temporary accommodation (mainly in the private rented sector). The council aimed to reduce this number by half in 2011. The London Borough of Haringey needed to find a way of helping homeless residents to understand their options, as a lot of them struggle to understand the system or what kind of property they are eligible for. This is why they commissioned service design agency Livework to enable a multi-disciplinary team to come up with some high-impact solutions, and help making the customers more aware of their options.

What did they do?
Difficulties in service delivery are often a result of poor engagement with customers. Homeless customers are often stressed and emotional and it is easy for staff to distance themselves. The designers helped Haringey to see how a service design approach could give housing staff the tools they needed to help customers successfully.

The designers created a multidisciplinary team with membership ranging from housing staff, managers of improvement, and policy officers. They held workshops with the team, first to help them to develop a method for engaging customers, then to define and test possible solutions.

What was the result?
Haringey reduced the number of households in temporary accommodation from 5867 (April 2007) to 2991 (Dec 2011), and they are making significant savings. A broad homelessness strategy was set up to improve services and service delivery to the target group.

This service design trajectory also has introduced a culture change within the housing team, who are now much more inclined to listen to and act on issues raised by their customers.

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