Plans for a new permanent night shelter in Kettering

A permanent night shelter is on the cards for Kettering as the council’s Conservative cabinet is being asked to endorse a proposal to buy and re-open a boarded up hostel.

By Sarah Ward
Friday, 29th November 2019, 2:36 pm
Updated Friday, 29th November 2019, 2:36 pm
Kettering council is in negotiations with the owners of Wellington House to buy the hostel accommodation.
Kettering council is in negotiations with the owners of Wellington House to buy the hostel accommodation.

The authority’s head of housing John Conway has been in talks with the former owners of Wellington House to re-open the hostel from next autumn and also create a permanent night shelter in the same building.

The plan is being proposed to help tackle the homelessness crisis in the town with hundreds of families in temporary accommodation and many others sleeping rough across the borough.

The report, which will be considered by the council’s executive on Wednesday, says there are currently more than 50 single homeless people in Kettering, the majority of whom have mental health issues.

The proposal would be for Wellington House, which is off Northampton Road, to provide medium term accommodation for these vulnerable people.

The report says: “Currently, there are 57 single homeless people in Kettering and of those 86 per cent require support due to their mental health. Many of these people lead chaotic lives and find it difficult to maintain a tenancy due to behavioural issues, low self-esteem or poor financial management skills. As a result, they can experience episodes of homelessness and are more likely than most to end up sleeping on the streets.

“The initial vision for Wellington House is therefore to provide short and medium term accommodation for vulnerable, single people focusing on their mental health support . In addition, the premises could provide a permanent base for the night shelter and move-on accommodation through tenancy-ready training flats. This facility would have the potential to make a major contribution to the council’s strategy for preventing homelessness among the most vulnerable people in our community and to help rebuild lives.

“It is therefore proposed that the drop-in centre be offered to Safe Until Daylight as a base for them to run a year-round night shelter, should they have the capacity to operate such a facility.”

The town currently does not have a permanent night shelter, with charity Safe Until Daylight running a temporary shelter this winter from St Peter and St Paul’s church in the town centre.

Under the Homelessness Reduction Act all local authorities have a statutory responsibility to prevent homelessness.

Kettering has been one of the worst areas in the north of the county for a rise in homelessness, and in September it was receiving 27 new approaches each week from people who had become homeless.

Mr Conway has said the situation can be largely put down to a rise in private rent rates.

This financial year the council has budgeted to spend £807,000 on temporary accommodation for homeless households, but is predicting it will go £150,000 over budget.

The cost of the buy-out of Welllington House is yet to be decided, as the authority is still in talks with previous owners Home Group. The purchase will then come back to the council in the early new year for agreement.

The report says the transfer of ownership should be complete by the Spring 2020 if agreed by the administration.