Homeless Kettering households are typically spending eight months in temporary accommodation before being permanently housed.
At the start of April there were 191 households being put up in temporary accommodation by Kettering Council, an increase of 65 on the year before.
Homelessness rates have increased in the town in the past few years as more and more people are losing their private rentals because of rising rents. Currently there is a tented community set up in the grounds of St Peter’s and St Paul’s parish church in the town centre.
At a meeting yesterday (July 12) the council agreed a number of changes to its housing allocation scheme to try to ease the problem of people staying in temporary accommodation for so long. Eighty-six council homes are currently being used for temporary accommodation, which means the properties are unavailable for people who have been waiting on the housing list for a long time.
Changes made include new criteria for assessing people who are becoming close to homelessness and giving them priority based on whether they have a local connection to the town, whether they have children and whether or not they are deemed to have made their own circumstances worse.
The authority will also lessen the choice given to those staying in temporary accommodation, who had previously been able to choose which permanent houses they were able to bid for through Keyways – the service which allocates the council’s housing stock. They will now be placed in an autobidding system which will bid for them on available properties.
A report considered by councillors at the meeting said: “This process will provide homeless households with the best chance of securing a permanent home at the earliest opportunity.”
All residents on the Keyways system will also have to bid for at least one property every six months or they will be removed from the list. Another change will be allow people with housing-related debt to go on the housing list.
A suggestion to remove households from the council list who have no realistic chance of being housed was dismissed. Housing officer John Conway said the authority had received a number of representations against the proposal.
Labour councillor Maggie Don also spoke against the idea. She said: “I think having been accepted on to the list and having had to jump through all the hoops it would be a travesty to kick them off the list because people are in more need.”
All councils have a duty under the 2017 Homeless Reduction Act to help people who become homeless.
The authority says that since the act has been brought in it has used 52 per cent more temporary accommodation than before.