Wellingborough council to spend another £2m buying up empty properties to house homeless

Wellingborough Council will spend another £2m this financial year on buying up property to house homeless residents.

Saturday, 21st December 2019, 6:00 am
The council is now adding another 2m to already committed 2.7m to help house homeless households.
The council is now adding another 2m to already committed 2.7m to help house homeless households.

The authority has announced this week that its buying up of 13 properties has helped halve the number of people being housed in expensive temporary accommodation and the number of homeless households being temporarily housed by the authority now sits at 42, down from 91 in December 2017.

The authority – which like much of the region has suffered a homelessness crisis which has hit its finances – is in the process of buying up another six properties and this week agreed to commit another £2m this financial year to buy up more empty properties.

Since 2017 it has spent £2.7m on buying houses.

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Its officers will now investigate buying and setting up a hostel in the town. All local housing authorities have a statutory duty to help residents who are at risk of or have become homeless.

A night shelter run by charity Wellingborough Homeless Forum in the grounds of Wellingborough School is providing beds for about 20 rough sleepers each night.Wellingborough Council leader Cllr Martin Griffiths said: “Our team is dedicated to providing a confidential service for our residents, which will provide them with the guidance and support they need during such a difficult time.

“The team has worked with more than 760 residents this year, and helped 35 people into accommodation with rent deposits that otherwise would have been in temporary accommodation, sofa surfing, or rough sleeping. We will continue to do all we can to reduce the number of people facing homelessness or are homeless in the borough to ensure they have a safe and warm place to call home.”

After a £68,000 government grant came through in April the authority set up an outreach service and staff work with the council’s community enforcement protection officers who the authority says have helped five rough sleepers into accommodation in the last couple of months.

In the past two financial years the council – which does not have its own housing stock – has spent more than £1m from its revenue budget on costly temporary accommodation for homeless households. This was a big jump from the £353,000 spent in 2017/18.