Computer to choose housing to tackle huge rise in homelessness in Corby

The number of households registered as homeless in Corby has more than doubled in a year
The number of households registered as homeless in Corby has more than doubled in a year
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The number of households registered as homeless in Corby has more than doubled in a year.

And to try to solve the problem, Corby Council is proposing that homeless families should no longer have the right to take up to four weeks to choose a suitable property.

If they don’t find somewhere they immediately want to move to, they will be told to accept the first suitable property they are offered by an ‘auto-bid’ service on the Keyways housing website, abandoning current policy which gives them four weeks to pick a property they like before the software finds one for them.

There were 133 families or single people registered as statutorily homeless in 2015/16, compared to 60 in 2014/15.

The figures will be presented to councillors at a meeting this week where members will decide on proposals to change the way in which they allocate housing to homeless people.

It is claimed by council officers that residents are placing their desire for a certain area or property type over their need to get out of temporary accommodation.

Housing officers have compiled the report which states: “There has been a marked increase in homelessness from autumn 2015 onwards.

“This, in turn, has caused an increase in the use of temporary accommodation, B&B usage, B&B costs and storage of furniture costs.

“The council’s temporary accommodation is currently being fully utilised and the shortage of move-on accommodation has created a waiting list for temporary accommodation and officers having to place homeless households out of the borough or in B&B where available.”

The report shows that the council received 133 homeless applications last year, representing a 122 per cent increase.

Its B&B costs went up by 140 per cent, from £4,210 to £10,110, and its storage costs for furniture rose from £3,450 to £8,400 – up by 143 per cent.

There were 24 families placed outside the borough, compared to 14 the year before.

Currently homeless families are given four weeks as top priority cases on the council’s Keyways portal to find suitable accommodation.

But because they have so long to find somewhere they want to move to, they are staying in temporary accommodation for longer which is causing a backlog and subsequently affecting the B&B sector.

The proposed revision to the rules states: “All statutory homeless applicants will continue to be awarded the highest priority (band A).

“However, the four weeks’ choice to bid on Keyways [will be] removed.

“The software will auto-bid for the next suitably-sized property within Corby Council.

“This will be considered as a final offer to the household and a discharge of homeless duty.

“The auto-bidding currently happens on homeless applications after the four weeks’ choice on Keyways has expired.

“This proposal is to bring this forward in the process to the date of being accepted as statutory homeless.”

Corby Council lead member for housing Cllr Bob Eyles said: “Our priority at Corby Council is to provide suitable housing for residents as quickly and sufficiently as possibly.

“After exploring all options, it was decided by the council’s One Corby Policy Committee that the recommendation to reduce the time Band A applicants have to bid before the Auto Bid system is put into play is the most efficient way to achieve this.”

The council will take into consideration exceptional circumstances where there is evidence a household cannot live in certain areas of Corby for safety reasons.

The full report can be viewed here.

Read more: Corby Council was named as the best authority at preventing homelessness in 2015 according to central government figures