Council plans to buy ten North Northamptonshire homes for rough sleepers

They hope they'll be bought, repaired and furnished by March 2023

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 7:00 am
Ten homes could be bought to house rough sleepers

Tens homes in north Northamptonshire could be bought to help provide accommodation for rough sleepers as the number of people living on the streets rises.

Tomorrow (Thursday) North Northamptonshire Council' s (NNC) executive committee will be asked to put £580,250 of funding to support their bid to the government’s Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme (RSAP).

As part of a £1.165m project - with half of the money coming from a Homes England grant - they hope to buy, repair and furnish the one-bedroom units by the end of March 2023, with purchases being completed by December next year. Two tenancy support workers would also be funded until March 2024. The outcome of the bid is expected imminently.

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It comes as the number of people sleeping rough in the north of the county has risen in recent months. A snapshot figure of those sleeping rough on a single night in September was 25 - with 15 of those new to rough sleeping that month. In April the snapshot figure for a single night was just 12, with two new rough sleepers. And the total number of people sleeping rough in September was 42 - up from 28 in April.

A further 23 rough sleepers were accommodated in short-term emergency accommodation in north Northants on September 30. NNC say analysis shows the increase is largely due to evictions and relationship breakdowns. A hostel in Corby which usually has 21 bed spaces now only has nine because of social distancing and has exacerbated the problem, NNC said.

A report set to be discussed by councillors says: "Specific properties will be identified as the project evolves, but it is envisaged that the purchase of the ten properties will predominantly be made in the towns of Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough and Rushden.

"As well as the likely suitability of a locality in terms of local services and community impact, demand and supply data in relation to rough sleeping will also be used to inform in which localities properties will be acquired. A small number of rough sleepers also have complex physical health needs and (dependent on availability) it is proposed that the council should seek to acquire at least two ground floor units with scope to provide disabled adaptations."

It is envisaged that each rough sleeper would occupy a property for a period of up to two years while they are supported to become 'tenancy and employment ready', after which time they would be supported into settled independent tenancies.

North Northamptonshire Council is aiming to reduce the snapshot single night rough sleeping figure to nine individuals by the end of March 2022

The report added: "While there is disparity between localities within north Northamptonshire, overall, for those in emergency accommodation and sleeping rough there is a lack of suitable settled housing that enables more focused support to be provided, ultimately aiming to address underlying support needs and the root causes of multiple exclusion homelessness."

The move to buy homes with support for rough sleepers comes after a Safeguarding Adults Review published in March over the death of Jonathan Upex, a former rough sleeper in north Northamptonshire.

It made a series of recommendations for housing, social care and health to work in a more collaborative and coordinated way to identify and address multiple exclusion homelessness, finding that opportunities to protect him were missed.

Tomorrow's meeting will also see councillors discuss giving approval to buy six properties in Kettering for temporary accommodation. No details of the cost of these properties, where they are or the reasons for it are being made public with the item to be discussed behind closed doors under exempt procedures.