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.