NEW STRATEGY AIMED AT TACKLING HOMELESSNESS
PREVENTING and tackling homelessness is at the heart of a new strategy adopted by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC).
The South Lakeland District Council Homelessness Strategy 2019 – 2024 identifies four priorities – homeless prevention, increasing the supply of settled accommodation, ensuring appropriate support is available, and tackling complex needs.
Key measures include:
· not placing homeless families in bed and breakfast accommodation unless exceptional circumstances and then for no longer than 6 weeks;
· not placing young people (under 24) in bed and breakfast accommodation;
· reducing by 20 per cent the number of long-term empty homes in the district (currently 827) by 20 per cent;
· enabling 1,000 homes to rent in the period 2016 – 2025 and 700 affordable homes to buy;
· bringing a minimum of 70 empty homes back into use through targeted interventions between 2015 and 2020.
Actions in the strategy include:
· working with private rented sector to secure accommodation for people in housing need/at risk of homelessness;
· Bringing empty homes back into use by implementing the Empty Homes Strategy and Action Plan;
· Working with public sector bodies and churches to identify any potential sites that could be used for affordable or supported housing;
· Using housing renovation grants to enable potential new schemes suitable for tenants with specific needs;
· Working with providers to enable a shared housing scheme in South Lakeland for young people;
· Working with housing associations to develop new affordable homes with the help of low-cost loans.
SLDC has committed £461,000 in 2019/20 to create new temporary accommodation for families in the district – over and above the commitment to Kendal’s Town View Fields hostel – and has paid £113,000 in discretionary housing payments to 105 individuals over the past year to prevent them becoming homeless through evictions because of rent arrears.
The council is also on target to enable the delivery of 1,000 affordable homes to rent during the period 2014 – 2025 with 457 completions to 31 December 2018. The authority has also enabled the delivery of 121 affordable homes for sale in the same period.
Councillor Jonathan Brook, SLDC’s deputy leader, who also holds the Housing and Innovation portfolio, said: “Unfortunately, homelessness is increasing locally and this reflects the position nationally. Tackling homelessness requires a multi-agency response. There is a very clear understanding that we as South Lakeland District Council are just one part of that response. That is why we work closely with other organisations in the Strategic Homelessness Group that includes the County Council, health services and third sector organisations, right across the district.”
“This report highlights that the number of homeless presentations increased by 380 per cent to 605 last year, since 2012/13. Additionally, the number of people presenting with multiple and complex needs such as drug and alcohol dependency and mental health issues has also increased significantly. This is a major double challenge for us.
“Our new strategy identifies a clear way forward and identifies clear and specific actions to tackle these challenges.”