Kettering council gets a grip on the town's homelessness crisis
The number of households in temporary accommodation has dropped by a third since the summer.
Kettering’s homelessness crisis has lessened with the number of families living in temporary accommodation reducing by more than a third and just one person now sleeping rough.
Last summer 234 families were living in temporary accommodation and there were more than a dozen people sleeping on the streets of the town with a makeshift tented camp set up in the grounds of St Peter and St Paul’s church.
Rising private rents, reduced housing benefits and lack of social housing had caused the crisis, which cost Kettering Council £1.1m last financial year and is expected to cost £900,000 this financial year.
However at the council’s scrutiny meeting on Tuesday housing officer Carly Hohn reported the latest statistics.
The authority now has 149 households in temporary accommodation, down from 234 in August.
90 of the households are now temporarily living in council accommodation, with the authority saying that no families are being housed in bed and breakfast.
There is one homeless family with nine children.
A count in November found four people sleeping rough in the town and the authority now says this number is down to just one person.
Carly Hohn said the council’s housing team had worked hard to turn the situation around and now was able to take a more planned than reactive approach.
She said: “Our focus is now largely preventing and relieving homelessness before it gets to crisis point.”
Like all local housing authorities Kettering has a duty under the Homelessness Reduction Act to help those who are at risk of losing their home or have lost a place to stay.
The council has a team of staff who help people with rent problems, access to benefits and with emergency accommodation.
The authority has also worked with charity Safe Until Daylight, which is running a night shelter this winter and is in talks to buy former hostel Wellington House to bring it back into use.
Head of housing Jon Conway said the authority was hopeful Wellington House could be back in use later this year.
He said: “The owners have agreed to sell Wellington House and our valuers and their valuers are now talking to each other. We are hoping to exchange contracts this financial year and would hope to open next Autumn. We want to use Wellington House as a preventative tool. Not a place to help pick people off the streets but somewhere to help stop them getting there in the first place.”
There has been a rapid rise in homelessness over the past three years across large parts of the country.