Council may buy houses to help the homeless

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Sleeping rough in Stratford-upon-Avon. Photo: Mark Williamson

An over reliance on bed and breakfasts to temporarily house the homeless has prompted the council to consider purchasing its own properties.

So far this financial year the council has spent around £300,000 on bed and breakfast temporary accommodation to support those who present themselves to the council as homeless and are accepted by the authority.

Rising numbers of people seeking such help have already prompted the council to enter an agreement with Orbit to free up more units for temporary accommodation in the district, but it has still proved tricky reducing the costly reliance on bed and breakfasts.

In the long-term the council is investigating whether a new purpose built facility can be developed to provide temporary accommodation, but such plans are likely to be years away.

In the meantime a new solution is to be considered at Monday’s Cabinet meeting, allowing the authority to purchase homes for temporary accommodation and approve funds to convert these properties if necessary.

A maximum of three houses would be purchased initially, should the council agree to the proposal.

By law the council is required to provide temporary accommodation to a range of households meeting certain criteria.

Cllr Peter Richards, Health, Wellbeing and Housing Portfolio says: “The Cabinet has been looking at this since February and is keen to reduce the reliance on Bed and Breakfast accommodation for use as temporary accommodation.

“Although officers have implemented a number of measures which are reducing the reliance on Bed and Breakfast, demand still remains high.  This proposal will look to reduce this reliance further, ahead of the long term proposal for a purpose build unit. The new procedure with new delegations proposed would also mean officers will be able to act quickly when suitable houses on the open market become available to buy.”

Peter Moorse, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at Stratford District Council, said: “The council is currently spending at a rate of nearly £1 million a year on bed and breakfast accommodation for the homeless. That’s almost double the amount spent last year.

“Worst of all there are currently a number of families with children in bed and breakfasts. We desperately need more temporary accommodation for use by the homeless whilst permanent accommodation is identified so this move to purchase housing makes sense.

“It’s exactly a year since we put a motion to the council, asking them to ‘examine urgently the possibility of using this windfall (from the sale of Orbit garages) for the provision of
temporary accommodation for those who are homeless’, so nobody could accuse the Conservatives of rushing things, but at least it’s moving forward now.”

The Cabinet will vote whether to support the idea tomorrow.

  • Gromit

    …. Will these newly purchased house then become subject to Right to Buy? And sold to the tenant at a massive discount?

    • James McKindley

      Probably not Gromit, unless Labour get in of course. I believe that most councils doing this are setting up limited companies with senior councillors as the directors. As the houses are owned by the company and not the council the RTB policy does not count.

  • James McKindley

    Is it any wonder that homelessness is on the increase and the resulting cost is soaring? Nationally the B&B bill is now pushing half a billion pounds, which most people will agree is an enormous amount of money. Central Government are taxing landlords out of existence causing them to either increase rents or quit and leave the market. In the vast majority of cases if a landlord sells he or she will do so with vacant possession. This means the tenant must go and they have to look for somewhere new in a smaller market and something they can afford. Many families get pushed out and end up at the Council’s doors. When made homeless they’ll likely lose most of their possessions too because they just can’t take them into a B&B. If they’re then lucky enough to be found permanent accommodation they’ll have little in the way of everyday necessities to live.

    When is Central Government going to wake up to what they are causing by driving landlords out of the market??? Some landlords have bought houses over the last year but many more have sold up. The result is there’s 46,000 fewer houses in rental stock and that must mean that there are over 46k families displaced. And yet the ‘charity’ Shelter supports all this too. Government and Shelter need their heads knocking together.

  • TheLandlordWhisperer

    It never fails to amuse me now that government and councils routinely attack private landlords and want them out of business, yet then complain theres no rental property and a huge increase in homelessness. This is happening all over the country. The quicker the attacks on landlords stop, the quicker eviction rates and homelessness will fall. Temporary accomadation is 3-4x the cost of a private rent so encourage supply from landlords and save public funds by housing people again!

  • 1jamessmith1

    what is wrong with the boarded up properties near the former chip shop on Brum Rd? They have been boarded up for how long?????????????????